Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Argyle Road, Sevenoaks. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 01732 227247  Email: democratic.services@sevenoaks.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

Change in order of agenda items

With the consent of the Council, the Chairman advised she would bring forward consideration of agenda item 9 to before agenda item 6 (b).

22.

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 20 November 2018. pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Minutes:

Resolved:  That the Minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 20 November 2018 be approved and signed as a correct record.

23.

To receive any declarations of interest not included in the register of interest from Members in respect of items of business included on the agenda for this meeting

Minutes:

No additional declarations of interest were received.

24.

Chairman's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chairman announced the sad passing of former Councillor and past Chairman Clive Bruce, who had passed away peacefully following an operation on 19 January 2019.  Clive was Chairman of the Council in 2004/2005 and represented Ash Cum Ridley between 1987 and 2007.  The Chairman also advised that in January the former Leader of the Council and Sevenoaks Kippington Ward Councillor, Frances Kitson had also died.  She asked Members to join her in a moments silence as a mark of respect.

 

The Chairman reported that the Christmas period had been enjoyable and busy and she and her consort had spent a very different Christmas Day and one they would always remember, visiting patients in Sevenoaks Hospital, spending time in the CCTV room and lunching with Age UK at Hollybush and elderly people who would otherwise have been on their own. 

 

A very successful evening had been held at the Indoor Bowls Centre in January, not only Raising funds for the Silas Pullen Fund, but guests had really enjoyed the taster sessions and it had become quite competitive. She was proud to announce that to date the wonderful sum of £12,455 had been raised for the Silas Pullen Fund.  Members showed their appreciation.

 

The Chairman reported that she was proud to have been part of Sevenoaks District Council at the Community Awards Evening where the fantastic volunteers in the district were acknowledged and the Leader’s unique way of comparing certainly added something special to the event. She wished to record her thanks to the team of staff members who organised and managed the evening so superbly.

 

With her focus on community wellbeing she advised that she had supported the launch of the 6th Every Step Counts walk in January, with snow on the ground around Greatness Park.  She was pleased to announce that a seventh Every Step Counts group was planned in Hextable.

 

On Sunday she had held her Civic Service in ‘our little church in the woods’ in West Kingsdown which had been well supported by colleagues: Mayors and Chairmen from across Kent and Surrey; Councillors; Past chairmen; and members of the local community.  This had been followed by ‘Afternoon Tea’ in the Village Hall. She thanked all who had been able to come.

25.

To receive any questions from members of the public under paragraph 17 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution.

Minutes:

No questions had been received.

26.

To receive any petitions submitted by members of the public under paragraph 18 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution.

Minutes:

No petitions had been received.

27.

Matters considered by the Cabinet pdf icon PDF 32 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

a)            Council Tax Discounts for Empty and Uninhabitable Dwellings

 

Councillor Fleming moved and Councillor Scholey seconded the recommendation from Cabinet, which recommended amendments to the level of Council Tax discount for unoccupied and unfurnished dwellings, and dwellings undergoing or requiring major structural repair.

 

Resolved:  That with effect from 1 April 2019

 

a)   the Council Tax discount for unoccupied and unfurnished dwellings be reduced from 100% for up to 3 months to 100% for up to 1 month (Class C of the Council Tax (Prescribed Classes of Dwellings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012);

 

b)   the Council Tax discount for unoccupied dwellings undergoing or requiring major structural repair be reduced from 100% for 12 months to 0% for 12 months (Class D of the Council Tax (Prescribed Classes of Dwellings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012); and

 

c)   in accordance with Section 11B of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018 the additional amount payable for Council Tax be increased from 50% to 100% for dwellings that were unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for more than two years.

28.

To consider any questions by Members under paragraph 19.3 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution, notice of which have been duly given.

Question 1: Cllr Dr Canet

 

" Given that we have seen at least two periods of recession, in property values since the 1990s, a strategy which relies on borrowing (even at below market PWLB rates) to fund the property income needs to make allowance for the risk of capital losses as well as the costs of acquiring and managing properties.

 

What risk analysis has the Council completed to ensure that investing in property --which some industry experts believe to be at or past peak values- will not expose the council to financial risk?

 

Given that there are risks inherent in any commercial investment strategy, Shouldn't the Council be looking to achieve community and social benefits from its investments, for example in a worthwhile quantity of affordable housing investment in Sevenoaks District? "

Minutes:

One question had been received from a Member in accordance with paragraph 19.3 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution.

 

Question 1:   Cllr. Dr. Canet

 

Given that we have seen at least two periods of recession, in property values since the 1990s, a strategy which relies on borrowing (even at below market Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) rates) to fund the property income needs to make allowance for the risk of capital losses as well as the costs of acquiring and managing properties.

 

What risk analysis has the Council completed to ensure that investing in property - which some industry experts believe to be at or past peak values- will not expose the council to financial risk?

 

Given that there are risks inherent in any commercial investment strategy, Shouldn't the Council be looking to achieve community and social benefits from its investments, for example in a worthwhile quantity of affordable housing investment in Sevenoaks District?

 

Response: Leader of the Council

 

You are quite right that investing in property does come with specific risks and as with any investment, the risks and rewards should be fully considered.

 

The Property Investment Strategy Update report contains a risk analysis that shows differences to the one reported to Council a year ago reflecting the changing views of the property market.  The Audit Committee analysed the risks of the strategy after it was first agreed and continue to review it each year as the Property Investment Strategy is an area detailed in the Strategic Risk Register.  An audit of the strategy was also completed in 2017/18.  In addition, the Scrutiny Committee set up a Property Investment Strategy Member Working Group which concluded that the benefits of the strategy do outweigh the risks.

 

Thorough due diligence is carried out for each potential investment to reduce the risks as much as possible.  Our current holdings are reviewed on a regular basis and it is recognised that there is likely to be a time when there are business reasons to dispose of assets currently owned.

 

The main aim of the strategy is to produce income to replace Government support to allow us to provide excellent services to our residents and therefore achieve community and social benefits.  The Council has Quercus Housing whose aim is to use s106 funding to provide affordable housing in the district and we are in the final stages of due diligence for a 14 unit property that was likely to provide ten affordable housing units and 4 market units.

 

None of the assets currently held in the strategy have been funded by external borrowing but it is recognised that future assets may be.  This is why we are looking to revise the strategy criteria to ensure that the Council does still receive a good return after paying any interest on a loan.

 

Supplementary question: Cllr. Dr. Canet

 

Cllr Dr Canet stated that she remained concerned as it was different times commercially and politically, that this was a risky strategy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.

29.

Matters considered by the Cabinet (cont:)

Minutes:

(b)     Property Investment Strategy Update

 

Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Scholey seconded, the recommendation from Cabinet.  The report sought approval of amendments to the Property Investment Strategy.

 

Resolved:  That the following amendments be made to the Property Investment Strategy

 

a)     the income yield be amended to 3%+ above the Council’s average treasury management return (currently 0.7%) when not borrowing or internally borrowing, and 3%+ above the borrowing rate (currently 2.6% for 30 years) when externally borrowing, based on an average over 10 years. (Flexibility may be applied to those opportunities that show an acceptable social return on investment);

 

b)     the lot size be amended to £1m - £10m subject to multiple tenants for lots over £5m; and

 

c)      investment opportunities be restricted to those within a 50 mile radius of the Council’s Argyle Road offices or within Kent and Medway, recognising that this may need to be changed in future if legislation is amended.

 

 

(c)      Treasury Management Strategy 2019/20

 

Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Scholey seconded, the recommendation from Cabinet.  The report sought approval of the Treasury Management Strategy 2019/20.

 

Resolved:  That the Treasury Management Strategy for 2019/20, be approved.

 

 

(d)     Capital Strategy 2019/20

 

Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Scholey seconded, the recommendation from Cabinet, which sought approval of a Capital Strategy for 2019/20 in line with the new CIPFA Prudential Code and the CIPFA Treasury Management Code.

 

Resolved:  That the Capital Strategy for 2019/20 be approved.

 

 

(e)     Calculation of Council Tax Base and other tax setting issues

 

Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Scholey seconded, the recommendation from Cabinet.  The report set out details of the calculation of the District’s tax base for council tax setting purposes.

 

Resolved:  That

 

a)     the report of the Chief Finance Officer for the calculation of the Council’s tax base for the year 2019/20 be approved;

b)     pursuant to the report of the Chief Finance Officer and in accordance with the Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) Regulations 1992 (as amended) the amount calculated by the Sevenoaks District Council as its council tax base for the whole area for the year 2019/20 shall be 50,772.34;

 

c)      pursuant to the report of the Chief Finance Officer and in accordance with the Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) Regulations 1992 (as amended) the amount calculated by the Sevenoaks District Council as the council tax base for 2019/20 for the calculation of local precepts shall be:

 


Parish

Tax Base

Ash-cum-Ridley

2,460.65

Badgers Mount

334.28

Brasted

778.50

Chevening

1,450.74

Chiddingstone

602.66

Cowden

435.77

Crockenhill

660.41

Dunton Green

1,323.31

Edenbridge

3,556.04

Eynsford

945.99

Farningham

664.59

Fawkham

283.39

Halstead

782.28

Hartley

2,555.38

Hever

610.42

Hextable

1,666.94

Horton Kirby & South Darenth

1,299.56

Kemsing

1,839.00

Knockholt

634.77

Leigh

948.18

Otford

1,709.88

Penshurst

835.95

Riverhead

1,249.06

Seal

1,253.83

Sevenoaks Town

9,637.63

Sevenoaks Weald

615.09

Shoreham

685.46

Sundridge

932.07

Swanley

5,607.45

Westerham

2,068.71

West Kingsdown

2,344.35

d)     any expenses incurred by the Council in performing in part of its area a function performed elsewhere in its area by a parish or community council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.

30.

Matters considered by other standing committees/Council working groups pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)          Amendments to the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy following consultation

 

Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Mrs Morris seconded, the recommendations from the Licensing Committee which sought approval of amendments to the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy.

 

Councillor Mrs Morris wished to record her thanks to Officers and Members for all their work at Committee and hearings for the past four years.

 

Resolved:  That the draft amended Hackney Carriage and Private Hire policy be approved.

 

 

(b)         Monitoring Officer’s Annual Report

 

Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Ball seconded, the recommendations from the Standards Committee.

 

Resolved: That the report be noted.

 

 

(c)          Amendments to the Constitution: Licensing Sub-Committee Hearing Procedures

 

Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Pett seconded, the recommendations from the Governance Committee.

 

Resolved:  That

 

a)   ‘Part 8 – Licensing Committee’ of the Council’s Constitution be amended as set out in Appendix A to the report; and

 

b)   delegated authority be granted to the Head of Legal & Democratic Services, to draft further amendments to Part 8 of the Council’s Constitution to include hearing procedures under the Gambling Act 2005 and the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, Public Health Act 1875 and Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, for consideration at Council on 30 April 2019 after consultation with the Chairman of Governance.

 

 

(d)         Member Working Group – Income Strip Funding

 

Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Scholey seconded, the recommendations from the Member Working Group – Income Strip Funding (ISF) with additional wording on recommendation (c) adding the words ‘including those in the Property Investment Strategy’ at the end.

 

Councillor Fleming expressed his thanks to the Working Group, and officers, stating that it was one of the great strengths of the Council that it was fortunate enough to have highly skilled Members who could look and understand a system that was at the cutting edge of funding for Local Authorities.

 

Councillor Scholey stated that Income strip funding arrangements were relatively complex arrangements and he also wished to thank the members of the working group for their diligence and expertise in working through the details of the advice received from professional advisors.

 

He explained that in essence income strip funding arrangements were designed so that a pension fund or insurance company could lend money to organisations with implied government backing to purchase property in a manner where the funder has no risks or responsibilities related to the property. They were for periods of 30 to 50 years and the financial return to the funder increased in line with an agreed measure of inflation, typically RPI.  In return for the security of government backing, inflation protection and lack of other responsibilities the funders could offer to provide money at a low rate of return.  This could be a very useful source of funding for schemes where, for example, education and local authorities were confident the income generated from the property will reliably increase at a rate sufficient to pay the funder. 

 

Examples of uses of income strips were funding of college halls of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.

31.

To consider the following reports from the Chief Executive or other Chief Officers on matters requiring the attention of Council pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)     Pay Policy Statement

 

Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Lowe seconded the report which set out the elements of senior officer pay that enabled the Council to attract high quality officers whilst protecting value for money to the community. Approval by Council and publication on the Council website improved transparency and accountability whilst ensuring adherence to the Localism Act 2011.

 

Resolved: That the Pay Policy Statement be adopted and published on the Council’s website.

32.

To consider any motions by Members under paragraph 20 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution, notice of which have been duly given.

Minutes:

No motions had been received.

33.

To receive the report of the Leader of the Council on the work of the Cabinet since the last Council meeting. pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council reported on the work that he and the Cabinet had undertaken in the period 5 November to 8 February 2018.

 

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