Executive Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 14th September, 2017
Time:
7.30 pm
Place:
New Council Chamber, Town Hall, Reigate
 

Attendance Details

Present:
V.W. Broad (Leader), A.J. Kay (Deputy Leader), Mrs. N.J. Bramhall, J.E. Durrant, Dr. L.R. Hack, E. Humphreys, G.J. Knight, Mrs. R. Mill, Mrs. R. Renton, T. Schofield
Also Present:
Councillors Mrs R. Absalom, D. Allcard, M. Blacker, J.C.S. Essex, N.D. Harrison, M.J. Selby, Mrs R. Turner and C.T.H. Whinney
Min NoDescriptionResolution
Part I
25 MINUTES

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 13 July 2017 be approved as a correct record and signed.

26 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Non-Executive Member: Councillor D. Pay.

27 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

None.

28 CONSIDERATION OF THE REPORT FROM THE EXTERNAL AUDITORS ON THE 2016/17 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS (ISA 260)

Councillor T. Schofield, Executive Member for Finance presented the ISA 260 report from KPMG following their audit of the Council’s 2016/17 accounts.
 

It was noted that KPMG, the Council’s external auditors, had undertaken a thorough audit which had included favourable references to the quality of the accounting statements and supporting working papers. The Executive Member expressed his pleasure that, once again, he was reporting that KMPG had issued an unqualified audit opinion on the accounts.
 

Joanne Lees from KPMG presented her findings on their audit report on the Council’s 2016/17 Financial Accounts and reiterated their unqualified opinion on the accounts.
 

The Executive Member brought to the Executive’s attention that KPMG had updated their report since it was published for the Executive’s consideration. The Executive were reassured that the revised report contained only minor wording changes and a difference of interpretation in relation to the timing of when audit differences would be adjusted. The Executive Member indicated that he had reviewed the changes to the report with the Chief Financial Officer and assured the Executive that the changes were of a minor nature and did not change the substance of the report or alter the true and fair view of the Council’s accounts or KPMG’s unqualified audit opinion.
 

Councillor Schofield also referred to the Management Representation Letter which the Executive had been requested to agree. The Executive Member confirmed that this letter formed part of the usual audit process that provided assurances on matters required by auditing standards. However, to take account of the ISA 260 report changes (referred to above), a revised letter had been prepared for signature by the Leader of Council and the Chief Financial Officer (to take these into account).
 

The Executive noted that the Auditors had commented that two of the recommendations raised in their 2015/16 report had been re-issued as weaknesses had been identified in their 2016/17 findings and a further 4 recommendations had been submitted as part of the Auditors conclusions. The Chief Financial Officer gave an assurance to the Executive that arrangements would be put in place to resolve these matters.
 

The Executive congratulated all involved for a positive report and thanked Joanne Lees from KPMG for attending the meeting, presenting her report and the conclusions of the audit.
 

As a result of the above referenced adjustments the Executive Member moved amended recommendations and it was
 

RESOLVED that:
(i) the updated ISA 260 report on the 2016/17 audit be noted; and
(ii) the amended management representation letter be agreed for signature
 

Reasons for decision:
The Executive is responsible for corporate governance. How we utilise and account for resources is intrinsic to good governance.
 

Alternative options: None.
 

29 APPROVAL OF THE STATEMENT OF ACCOUNTS FOR THE FINANCIAL YEAR 2016/17

Councillor T. Schofield, Executive Member for Finance reported on the Statement of Accounts for the financial year 2016/17 that had been prepared, audited and presented to the Executive as part of the Annual Financial Report. It was noted that they were subject to final review by the external auditors, KPMG who had minor amendments to the report arising from their final review. These were noted as not impacting on the substance of the report.
 

The foreword to the Accounts provided a summary of the year’s activity and explained how we paid for it.
 

Following a Member point of observation the Chief Financial Officer indicated that the labelling of the section of the accounts currently shown as “Notes to the Accounts” would be reviewed and updated.
 

The Executive noted that the Council was one of 15 local authorities that no longer received Revenue Support Grant from the Government and emphasised that all other avenues of funding were rigorously pursued as illustrated by the recent successful receipt of funding towards the Council’s Homelessness activities.
 

It was emphasised that the Accounts also reported on the healthy balance on the General Fund and other reserves, which was as a result of careful budget management against a backdrop of challenging economic conditions.
 

Councillor Schofield thanked the Member Panel that reviewed the Statements and the Officers for their time and effort put into the preparation of these Accounts.
 

RESOLVED that the Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2017 be approved.
 

Reasons for decision:
The Code of Practice of Local Government Accounting recommends that the Statement of Accounts should be endorsed by the body within the Council that is responsible for overall corporate governance. Under the Council’s Constitution this function has been delegated to the Executive.
 

Alternative option: None.
 

30 QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE REPORT - (Q1)

A report was submitted with financial monitoring information for the first quarter of 2017/18. The report also provided the headline issues on major variances in relation to the Council's overall performance for the period. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered the performance at their meeting on 7 September and had no issues to report to the Executive.
 

The Executive Member for Finance reported that out of the nine key service performance indicators reported, seven were within target or agreed tolerance. The indicators that were off target were KPI 2 “Total number of residential completions” and KPI 3 “Number of affordable homes in KPI 2”. It was noted that both of these indicators were out of the council’s direct control and were dependent on the performance of private developers.

 

The Chief Executive updated the Executive, following questions asked at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, to indicate that he’d undertaken to provide the Committee with a report (in their next Performance report) that provided a broader picture on residential development numbers to give Members a better feel for the position with this KPI.
 

On the financial side, the Executive Member confirmed that the Council was projecting a year end underspend of £101,000 on the revenue budget. The capital budget was projecting a small underspend of £111,000 (0.9% of the budget).
 

The Chief Executive also informed the Executive that the variance of expenditure in Legal Services had been the subject of discussion at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The Executive was pleased to note that, as a result of recent management changes, the actions taken had stabilised the financial pressures on the service and had significantly strengthened and improved the quality of service delivered. This had been widely recognised by Members and other teams within the Council as a marked improvement over the last 6 six months. The results of these actions were anticipated to continue to improve the delivery of legal services as the new structure put in place bedded down further.
 

RESOLVED that the performance outlined in the report be noted.
 

Reasons for decision:
To consider the performance for the first quarter of the financial year 2017/18.
 

Alternative option: None.


 

31 SCHEME OF DELEGATION - ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH UPDATES

Councillor G.F. Knight, Executive Member for Community Safety presented a report that sought amendments to the Officer Scheme of Delegation contained within the Council’s Constitution in relation to Section 4 (Environmental Health) and Section 5 (Housing and other Residential Accommodation).
The proposed changes would allow the Scheme to be updated to include some new legislation and to amend the delegation for one function, so that all necessary enforcement powers available under the legislation could be utilised.
 

The Executive Member emphasised the importance of ensuring the clarity of officer delegations to ensure that the enforcement actions that are taken through this process can be clearly shown to be appropriately authorised.
 

The addition to the Scheme of Delegation related to the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which came into force in April 2017 and introduced a range of measures, intended to crack down on ‘rogue landlords’ operating in the private rented sector. The Act allowed local housing authorities to impose a civil financial penalty of up to £30,000 on an individual or organisation as an alternative to prosecution for certain offences under the Housing Act 2004, as well as extending the situations where rent repayment orders may be imposed. A rent repayment order required a landlord to repay a specified amount of rent, upon application when the landlord had committed certain specified offences.
 

All income received from civil penalties or rent repayment orders could be retained by the local authority, provided that it was used to further the local authority’s statutory functions in relation to their enforcement activities covering the private rented sector.
 

It was also proposed to make additions to the Scheme of Delegation as a result of the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. This legislation imposed requirements on landlords to install and maintain in working order smoke alarms and in some circumstances, carbon monoxide alarms. These requirements were enforced by local authorities who could impose a fine of up to £5,000 where a landlord failed to comply with a remedial notice.
 

The final proposed addition to the Scheme related to the Private Water Supplies Regulations 2016, which concerned the regulation of private water supplies, for which local authorities had a number of statutory duties.
The Executive was also requested to change the Head of Service that was currently delegated with the function to ‘Exercise the Council’s powers, duties and functions in relation to appeals to the Residential Property Tribunal’, from the Head of Service with responsibility for Housing, to the Head of Service with responsibility for Environmental Health, which was where the function was dealt with. It was also recommended that the wording be amended from ‘Residential Property Tribunal’ to ‘First-tier Tribunal’, which was the current name for this body.
Members noted the importance of putting in place appropriate delegations so that Officers could respond swiftly to circumstances that arise without delay. In supporting the recommendations Members addressed the importance of some of the actions for the health and well being of the Borough’s residents. To this end Members asked if Officers could give consideration to how the following matters might be addressed in liaison with the Executive Member for Community Safety:
 

• How to strengthen the enforcement of ensuring that landlords had working smoke and carbon monoxide (including for gas boilers) alarms fitted in properties managed by both private and social landlords;
 

• How to provide a mechanism for tenants to express concerns about ‘rogue landlords’ without fear of repercussions and whether a list of reputable landlords could be established;
 

• Building on the existing communication channels with landlords and agencies to encourage the implementation of the safety requirements; and
 

• Providing quality assurance guidance to promote high standards of work.
 

 

RESOLVED that the additions and an amendment to the Officer Scheme of Delegation contained within the Council’s Constitution be approved, as set out in Annex 1 of the report presented to the Executive in relation to Section 4 (Environmental Health) and Section 5 (Housing and other Residential Accommodation).
Reasons for decision: The Officer Scheme of Delegation needs to be kept up-to-date and for that purpose it is necessary to add some newly introduced legislation and to amend the delegation for one function, to ensure that all necessary enforcement powers available under the legislation could be utilised.
 

 

Alternative options: To make amendments to the proposed delegations or to not agree to the recommended changes to the Scheme of Delegation.

 


 

32 STATEMENTS

Councillor Dr L.R. Hack, Deputy Leader informed the Executive that the Narnia trail established in Banstead Woods was set to feature in BBC London News on 15 September 2017 covering the chainsaw sculptor Ella Fielding (of the Tree Pirates) on a time-lapsed video filming her creating the statue on the trail.

33 ANY OTHER URGENT BUSINESS

None.

8.15pm