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To approve and sign the minutes of the Customer Focus Scrutiny Committee held on 3 December 2020.
The minutes of the meeting of the Customer Focus Scrutiny Committee held on 3 December 2020 were taken as read, approved as correct, for signing by the Chair at the earliest possible convenience.
Declarations of Interest
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 interest were made by Members.
Questions from the Public under Standing Order No. 19
For details about how to speak at Committee, please click the following link - https://exeter.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/councillors-and-meetings/public-speaking-at-meetings/overview/
Questions must be submitted by 10am three working days before the meeting. For example, if the meeting is being held on a Thursday, questions must be submitted by 10am on the Monday before the meeting, in this case Monday 8 February 2021.
No questions from members of the public were received.
Questions from Members of the Council under Standing Order 20
To receive questions from Members of the Council to the relevant Portfolio Holders for this Scrutiny Committee. The Portfolio Holders are Councillors Harvey, Ghusain, Williams and Wright.
No questions had been received from Council Members.
To consider the report of the Director Net Zero Exeter and City Management.
The Portfolio Holder City Management introduced the report and highlighted the following:-
· there had been no reduction in the collection service during the Pandemic;
· the original proposal for a kerbside collection had been devised with regard to the limited resources available;
· the main themes in the review of the service were the health and safety of staff, air quality and efficiency and scheduling of the rounds;
· evidence from neighbouring authorities using the kerbside sort system indicated that they were currently experiencing increased volumes of food and cardboard which were causing increased journeys to tip materials driving down productivity;
· the intention was to ensure that all new vehicles would be as environmentally friendly as possible;
· the new electric vehicles would receive power from the solar farm near to the re-cycling centre reducing diesel costs; and
· the high quality of output from the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) engenders confidence in the service increasing the commercial potential to the Council.
The Director Net Zero and City Management reported that the habits of residents had changed as a result of Covid-19 which had impacted on the proposed kerbside re-cycling service approved in October 2019 which had comprised of a weekly collection of dry recycling (paper, card, mixed plastics, glass, tins and cans) and food waste and a three weekly collection of residual waste.
He highlighted the following implications:-
· the pause caused by the Covid Pandemic was being used to re-evaluate the service as a change would involve considerable investment in the MRF and new vehicles. The main options were co-mingled with food collections or a kerbside sort system, however there were a wide range of issues to balance out to ensure the most cost-effective and efficient system was selected and that it would be sufficiently flexible to deal with changes in demand and usage;
· whilst the current co-mingled system had coped with the changes, evidence from neighbouring authorities indicated that there would be increased journeys to tip materials especially during the Christmas period in respect of food and cardboard;
· the aim of the review was to achieve the same outcomes for residents, meet the expected Government legal requirements for waste collection and help to deliver Net Zero ambitions;
· there were disadvantages with a kerbside collection because of reduced room available for loading as vehicles were larger and had to be loaded from the side and with cars parked in residential areas during the day there would be an impact on residential traffic. This system was therefore approximately three times slower and required some 50% more vehicles. Additionally, there was no electric solution currently for kerbside sort vehicles, although electric solutions were available for standard refuse collection vehicles. These are extremely expensive at present;
· revenue and capital investment costs and operational considerations were being assessed for each option. Whilst a kerbside operation would reduce the MRF costs, investment in vehicles would be more and staying co-mingled would require more investment in the MRF as machinery was more complicated.
The following responses were given to Members’ ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider the report of the Director Finance.
The Director Finance presented the report on the proposed General Fund revenue estimates for 2021/22 and recommending the Band D level of Council Tax for 2021/22. The report also included the proposed Capital Programme for 2021/22 and future years, and the proposals in respect of the Housing Revenue Account.
The report had previously been considered by the Executive on 9 February 2021, but this provided the opportunity to ensure Members were fully briefed before consideration of the budget at Council on 23 February 2021. Members noted that the three other reports presented to Executive – Capital Strategy 2021/22, The Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities and Treasury Management Strategy Report 2021/22 - had also been circulated to Members with the agenda pack.
Particular reference was made to the following:-
· the recent Government announcement of the Local Government Finance Settlement with no change to the provisional settlement;
· the Referendum Principles for the Council Tax set by the Government would allow the Council to increase the tax by £5;
· the Council’s core spending power would remain the same as the current financial year;
· the proposed budget took into account inflation increases for Exeter of £817,000;
· the Medium Term Financial Plan required savings of £6 million up to the period 2024/25;
· the HRA Medium Term Financial Plan would drop reserves close to minimum levels by 2023/24;
· the Government had also announced that there would be consultation on refining the New Homes Bonus which would close on 7 April 2021; and
· final figures would be reported to the Extraordinary Council on 23 February 2021 when the Devon County Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall and the Devon and Somerset Fire Authority precepts would be known.
The Director Finance responded as follows to Members’ queries:-
· the Council was on track to deliver against the emergency budget including meeting the reduced delivery in services identified as necessary. The Government had provided a number of compensation schemes such as the Sales, Fees and Charges Scheme so it had not been necessary to make the savings originally anticipated at £1.8 million in preparing the 2021/22 budget;
· the majority of CIL reserves of £10.15 million were set aside for capital schemes with £900,000 identified annually for revenue funding. Allocations included £1.9 million for Neighbourhood schemes, £550,000 for habitat and £7.7 million for infrastructure;
· total capital receipts within the General Fund were approximately £4-5 million;
· income generated from interest obtained from lending was used to fund other programmes. Some £15 million of lending would generate additional interest of £450,000; and
· Council reserves were set at £3 million to meet emergency circumstances. Increased risks associated with the Pandemic included bringing the Leisure Services in house and reduced car park income.
Members noted the report and thanked the Director Finance and his team for their work.