Agenda and minutes
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The Chairman explained that the meeting would be conducted in accordance with the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panel (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 No 392.
In welcoming all Members, the Chairman explained which officers were in attendance.
The Chairman reminded Members that the pre-election period had started and asked Members to be mindful of the need for scrutiny to be undertaken objectively rather than based on party politics.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves or their spouse, civil partner or person with whom they are living with as a spouse or civil partner. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
The Chairman will ask Members if they have any interests to declare in respect of items on this agenda, under the following headings:
(a) Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPI) under the Localism Act 2011. The nature as well as the existence of any such interest must be declared. After declaring a DPI, the Member must leave the meeting and not take part in the discussion or vote. This applies even if there is provision for public speaking.
(b) Disclosable Non Pecuniary (DNPI) under the Code of Conduct adopted by the Council in May 2012. The nature as well as the existence of any such interest must be declared. After declaring a DNPI interest, the Member may stay, speak and vote on the matter.
(c) Where it is possible that a fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts would conclude that there was a real possibility that the Member might be predetermined or biased the Member should declare their predetermination or bias and then leave the meeting while that item is considered.
Advice to Members: If any Councillor has any doubt about the existence or nature of any DPI or DNPI which he/she may have in any item on this agenda, he/she should seek advice from the Monitoring Officer, the Head of Legal or from other Solicitors in Legal Services as early as possible, and in advance of the Meeting.
No interests were declared.
Report to follow
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property, the Chief Financial Officer and the Head of Property Services have been invited to attend.
Report and appendices which went to Cabinet on 17 March 2021 added on 8 April 2021.
The Chairman explained that the purpose of the meeting was the call-in of the Cabinet decision on the low carbon refurbishment of Master’s House, Sheerness, made at the Cabinet meeting on 17 March 2021. He asked the Chief Executive about the timescales for the grant funding and whether the call-in would have an impact? The Chief Executive outlined the position and confirmed that the call-in would not cause a problem in the application for the funding. The Chairman referred to the recommendations made at that meeting and also to the three reasons for making the call-in, as submitted on the call-in form attached to the agenda. The Chairman added that the fourth reason ‘outside the policy and budgetary framework’ had been removed from the reasons as officers had advised that the decision was not outside the policy and budget framework. The Chairman invited the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property to speak.
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property gave some background to Master’s House and explained that it was owned by the Council and required substantial investment to bring it up to a standard so that it could be re-let. She outlined the poor state of the building and the proposals agreed at Cabinet on 17 March 2021 for funding the low carbon refurbishment. The Cabinet Member read out the recommendations from that meeting. She said the building had been let over a number of years, and its future use would be similar, but with improved facilities. The Cabinet Member said Master’s House was a substantial building in Sheerness town centre and an important asset for the Council.
The Chairman invited Members to speak on each of the reasons for the call-in.
Reason 1 – Inadequate consultation relating to the decision
The Chairman said that the project involved a substantial amount of money and he considered Members should have been consulted.
Members raised questions and points, as indicated by the bullet points below:
· Was the September time limit a fixed date to complete the work?
The Head of Property Services explained that the Council had been advised in February 2021 that the funding bid was successful, and once that was confirmed, it had made the project viable. She acknowledged that it was a tight deadline, which might be extended, but that was the date that was being worked to.
· If the date was not extended, would the funding be lost?
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property explained that the £300,000 grant funding was for certain elements of the project such as solar panels and air source heat pumps. The Head of Property Services added that the grant funding was only part of the total amount of funds going towards the project, and that if £300,000 had been spent by September 2021, the money would not have to be returned.
· Was the deadline date arbitrary, as long as some monies had been spent?
The Head of Property Services confirmed that until an official announcement was made, the Council had ... view the full minutes text for item 620.
Exclusion of Press and Public
To decide whether to pass the resolution set out below in respect of the following item:
That under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act:
3. Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).
There was no discussion that required the resolution to exclude the press and public.
The meeting was adjourned from 8.38 pm to 8.43 pm.