Agenda and minutes

Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 23rd March 2017 5.30 pm

Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter. View directions

Contact: Mark Devin, Democratic Services Officer  Telephone 01392 265477 or email

No. Item



To receive apologies for absence from Committee members.



Apologies were received from Councillor Holland.




To sign the minutes of the meeting held on 26 January 2017.



The minutes of the meeting held on the 26 January 2017 were taken as read and signed by the Chair as correct.



Declarations of Interests

Councillors are reminded of the need to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests that relate to business on the agenda and which have not already been included in the register of interests, before any discussion takes place on the item. Unless the interest is sensitive, you must also disclose the nature of the interest. In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, you must then leave the room and must not participate in any further discussion of the item.  Councillors requiring clarification should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer prior to the day of the meeting.



No declarations of disclosable interest were made.



Questions from the Public under Standing Order 19 pdf icon PDF 177 KB

Details of questions should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support at least three working days prior to the meeting.  Further information and a copy of the procedure are available from Democratic Services (Committees) (Tel: 01392 265115) and also on the Council web site -



One member of the public, Mr Andy Vowden, had submitted a question under Standing Order 19, in relation to the Public Engagement in the Democratic Process and Web-casting of Council meetings.


Councillor Ollie Pearson, as Portfolio Holder for Support Services, responded and a copy of the response was appended to the minutes.



Questions from Members of the Council under Standing Order 20 pdf icon PDF 213 KB

To receive questions from Members of the Council to appropriate Portfolio Holders.



In accordance with Standing Order No 20, ten questions were put by Councillor Musgrave in relation to public engagment and revenue. A copy of the questions had been previously circulated to Members, and together with the responses from Councillor Pearson, the Portfolio Holder for Support Services and Councillor Edwards, the Leader, were appended to the minutes.



Public Engagement in the Democratic Process and Web-casting of Council meetings pdf icon PDF 252 KB

To consider the report of the Corporate Manager Democratic Civic Support.



The Corporate Manager Democratic & Civic Support presented the report on greater public engagement in the democratic process and webcasting of Council meetings in response to the motion passed by Council in February 2016. He advised the motion had been divided into the following:


Meetings being held elsewhere


The Corporate Manager Democratic & Civic Support advised that all of the Council’s official meetings take place in the Civic Centre meeting rooms with Council meetings being held at the Guildhall. Both venues were setup to hold the meetings with appropriate equipment and capacity. It was rare to be unable to accommodate members of the public. A recent exception was at Extraordinary Council meeting held at the Guildhall which cannot incorporate the same numbers as the Civic Centre. He highlighted the Guildhall, the oldest municipal building in the country that was used for its original purpose for local government. Both the Civic Centre and Guildhall are based in the city centre and have excellent access to parking and public transport links.


He commented that the concept of holding meetings in other parts of the city was not unrealistic with the following matters having been taken into account:-


·         Finding suitable accommodation elsewhere (including the availability of all necessary equipment), including accessibility requirements;

·         Transportation of necessary equipment which may not be available at the venue (e.g. microphones);

·         Ensuring the appropriate public notice is given of the different location;

·         The costs associated with the hiring of the venues;

·         Staff time and costs in administering the booking of suitable venues, and ensuring their set up in time for the meetings themselves;

·         The availability of accommodation elsewhere up to 18 months ahead of the meeting itself – there is no guarantee that the accommodation booked, would be suitable for the meeting required by the time the meeting came to take place.


He explained there had been no call to hold meetings away from the Civic Centre or Guildhall and recommended to continue to hold meetings at these locations.


Broadcasting of meetings


The Corporate Manager Democratic & Civic Support advised that the Council does not currently broadcast its meetings and recognised that some facilities were being used by more local authorities. He confirmed there was public interest in broadcasting, so members of the public could be kept up to date with news and events, however there appeared to be little interest in Council Meetings.


Another issue was that the meeting rooms at the Civic Centre were not permanently setup for meetings and were used for other meetings. The Guildhall was a Grade 1 listed building which prevented the installation of fixed equipment.


The Corporate Manager Democratic & Civic Support recommended trialling a system such as Facebook Live for a six month period at public committee meetings.


Question time to the Leader of the Council at Council meetings


The Corporate Manager Democratic & Civic Support informed Members there was currently no opportunity for questions by members of the public to be asked to the Leader of the Council at full Council meetings and referred  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Overview of the Revenue Budget 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 205 KB

To consider the report of the Assistant Director Finance


Additional documents:


The Assistant Director Finance presented the report on the Revenue Budget, which outlined the overall projected financial position of the HRA & General Fund Revenue Budgets for the 2016/17 financial year and to seek approval for a supplementary budget.


He discussed the Council’s estimated financial position and the requirement for approval of additional expenditure during the financial year based on the under-spend outlined in the report. He commented that a supplementary budget totalling £59,000 had been approved previously by Council.


The Assistant Director Finance explained that the House Revenue Account had an opening balance of £7,068,670 with a projected surplus of £816,053. He commented on the underspend of management units and highlighted that £320,000 had been underspent on the repairs and maintenance.


He outlined the General Fund which indicated that the service committees had an under-spend of £153,519 against the revised budget of £15,028,649. He summarised the spending of the three Scrutiny committees indicating:


·         People Scrutiny Committee had an under-spend of £14,950;

·         Place Scrutiny Committee had an over-spend of £127,821;

·         Corporate Services had an under-spend of £266,390.


The Assistant Director Finance reported that the car parking under-spend for the Place Scrutiny Committee was £501,370 based on income from parking fees. He commented on the Supplementary Budgets informing Members that there was a requirement for further supplementary budgets in 2016/17. The General Fund supplementary budget was £59,000.


In response to questions from Members, the Assistant Director Finance explained:


·         The parks and green spaces had an under-spend of £108,770 which had been caused by vacant posts. Some income had come from park assets but the parks and open spaces team would be able to provide more information on this

·         Car park use across the city had increased which had caused an under-spend of £501,370. Had this not have happened the take from balances would have been closer to the revised estimate £850,000;

·         The car park machines would be adapted to be able to take the new £1 coins. The machines would initially be adapted to accept the new coins and then at a later date, be adapted again to ensure older pound coins could not be used. The cost was not known at this time but will not be significant.


Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee noted the report and requested Executive and Council to note and approve:


(1)  The General Fund forecast financial position for the 2016/17 financial year;

(2)  The HRA forecast financial position for 2016/17 financial year;

(3)  The additional supplementary budget listed in Appendix C;

(4)  The outstanding Sundry Debt position as at December 2016;


(5)  The creditor’s payments performance.



Capital Monitoring Statement to December 2016 pdf icon PDF 146 KB

To consider the report of the Assistant Director Finance.


Additional documents:


The Assistant Director Finance presented the report on the Capital Monitoring Statement which advised Members on the current position of the Council’s revised annual capital programme and the expected future deferred expenditure. He advised that the report required approval from Members to amend the annual capital programme in order to reflect the variations.


The Assistant Director Finance discussed the performance of the revised capital programme and reported the revised capital programme for the current financial year.


The Council had spent £5.956 million of the revised programme. He commented that major schemes had not been spent in this financial year and would be included in the next financial year. The schemes would be reviewed to ensure they could be delivered in 2017/18. He noted the spend would normally be a lot higher for this time of year.


The Assistant Director Finance commented on the approved budgets for 2017/18 with the 2016/17 budget to be carried forward to 2017/18 and beyond which required Executive and Council to consider for approval.


The Chair commented that he had spoken with the Deputy Chief Executive who suggested that resource concerns would need to be raised to him to reduce impact on delivery.


In response to Members’ questions, the Assistant Director Finance explained that normally the Council had spent around 50% percent of the programme after three quarters. If schemes were deemed to be viable, they would be checked to ensure they could be delivered and be added into the next financial year. Profiling had to improve to provide Members with realistic expectations.


Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee supported the report and requested Executive to recommend to Council to approve the revision of the annual capital programme to reflect the reported variations detailed in Expenditure Variances and Schemes to be deferred to 2017/18 and beyond.



Budget Monitoring for Quarter 3 pdf icon PDF 123 KB

To consider the report of the Assistant Director Finance.

Additional documents:


The Assistant Director Finance presented the report which advised Members of the differences to the revised budget and presented a quarterly financial update in respect of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee. He advised Members that local authorities had a statutory duty to set and monitor budgets during the year and to action potential overspending or income losses.


He discussed the financial resources required to deliver Corporate Services during 2016-17 and informed Members that net expenditure would decrease from the revised budget by £283,650 after transfers from reserves and revenue contributions to capital. This would include a supplementary budget of £854,990, which had already been agreed.


The Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee noted the content of the report and were satisfied that prudent steps were being taken to address the key areas of budgetary pressure highlighted in this report.