Agenda and draft minutes

Extraordinary Meeting of the Council - Tuesday 28th May 2024 6.00 pm

Venue: Guildhall, High Street, Exeter

Contact: Mark Devin, Democratic Services Manager  Telephone 01392 265107 or email  committee.services@exeter.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

10.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from the Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor Councillor Kevin Mitchell, Councillors Allcock, Begley, Ketchin, Read, Rees and Wood.

 

 

11.

Public Questions

Details of questions should be notified to the Democratic Services Team at least three working days prior to the meeting - by 10am on Wednesday 22 May 2024.

 

Further information and a copy of the procedure with details about speaking at Council can be found here: Public Speaking at Meetings.

Minutes:

It was noted that no public questions had been received.

 

 

 

12.

Questions from Members of the Council Under Standing Order No. 8

Details of questions should be notified to the Democratic Services Manager by no later than 10am on Friday 24 May 2024.

Minutes:

It was noted that no questions had been received from Members.

 

 

 

13.

Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 - Exclusion of Press and Public

To pass the following resolution:-

 

RECOMMENDED that, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of Item 4a – Appendix 2, on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part I, Schedule 12A of the Act.

 

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of item 4a - Appendix 2, on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1, of Schedule 12A of the Act.

 

 

 

14.

Exeter Science Park Limited - Conversion of debt to equity

To consider the report of the Director Finance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader presented the report which sought Members’ approval for a range of proposals to enable Exeter Science Park Limited (ESPL) to deliver on its objective of providing high quality jobs to support the local region.

 

The Leader moved and Councillor Wright seconded an amendment to recommendation 3, to read as follows:-

 

“The appointment of Councillor Matt Vizard as shareholder representative with the Director Finance as an advisor.”

 

 

The Director Finance responded to questions from Members as follows:

  • the loan was initially given and borrowed against the Council’s loans and the conversion to equity, would equate to a debt repayment of £40,000 per year, with no interest issues;
  • the Annual report and financial statement would be shared as soon as it is published;
  • the Science Park would not become its own owner, however the percentage of shareholding would change;
  • Councillor Vizard would act on behalf of Exeter City Council (ECC) and therefore look after the interests of ECC rather than the interests of the company;
  • there was no conflict arising from the recommendations as they were acting in the interests of the Council; and
  • the LEP had now ended and the money was being returned to the four stakeholders – Somerset Council, Devon County Council(DCC), Plymouth City Council and Torbay. These funds could only be used for the original purpose of what they were given.

 

Councillor Moore moved an amendment for the following additional recommendations, which was seconded by Councillor Palmer:-

 

“1. That the shareholder representative report back to Council not later January 2025, on the progress on the matters in Recommendation 4 and the Company’s ability to undertake the share buy-back;

 2. As set out in minute 27 of the Audit and Governance Minutes of 30 November 2022 the next Audit and Governance Committee receive the report on the “review of the governance of external companies” and consider appropriate arrangements for the nomination for shareholder representatives to and the proper oversight of all Council connected companies and make recommendations to the Executive; and

 3. To provide a report of all other unsecured loans and risk to the Council of those loans.”

 

During debate on the amendment, Members made the following further comments:-

 

  • there was disappointment that the Executive had not acted on auditors’ recommendations and progressed these matters;
  • it appeared that the Council had not learnt from the Exeter City Living issue; and
  • the additional recommendations would strengthen the Council’s position, whilst reflecting on past situations and bringing accountability for using public money.

 

Councillor Palmer, in seconding the recommendation, commented that previous lack of governance and oversight could be amended to ensure residents were fully aware.

 

In concluding, Councillor Moore commented: -

 

  • that she was glad people had contributed to the debate and that all Councillors wanted the same thing; and
  • that the additional recommendations would help all Councillors understand the position.

 

The Leader, as the mover of the original motion, spoke on the additional recommendations and thanked Councillor Atkinson for providing context and in addressing the additional recommendations,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.