Agenda and minutes

Finance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny - Tuesday, 9th June, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Microsoft Teams - Microsoft Teams. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 98 KB

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting

Additional documents:


The minutes of the meeting held on 4 February 2020 were agreed by the members present and will be signed by the Chairman at the next available opportunity.



Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence


There were no apologies for absence.


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest


A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a personal interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered -


(i)            must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent


and, if the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest, or a personal interest which is also prejudicial


(ii)           may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter (and must withdraw to the public seating area) unless they have been granted a dispensation.


A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Members’ Register of Interests, or is not the subject of a pending notification, must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.


Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal and prejudicial interests are defined in Part 2 of the Code of Conduct For Members


[If a member is in any doubt as to whether they have an interest which should be declared they should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer before the start of the meeting]



There were no declarations of interest.



Public Participation

An opportunity for members of the public to make statements or ask questions in accordance with the rules as to public participation





Consideration of any matter referred to the committee in relation to call-in




Provisional Financial Outturn 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 343 KB

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N Howcutt introduced the item and apologised that this report was coming after the Cabinet report. He summarised the key areas of the report; the General Fund position at year end was showing a balanced position as a provision outturn. The HRA was showing a significant surplus in year of £884k a large amount of that was because of year end calculations to do with bad debt provision. That surplus goes back into the HRA to fund future capital works. The overall capital position as of year-end had £0.4m of re-phasing which was a very small percentage of our overall capital programme which will take place in 20/21, and an end of year £2.4m overspend which was primarily across the three largest capital projects in the year; Tring swimming pool, the multi-storey car park in Berkhamsted and Bunkers Cemetery. Those three projects are either completed or near completion so there will be no additional spend past April/May. He welcomed questions from the committee.


Councillor Tindall referred to paragraph 4.2 relating to additional insurance costs for premises. He sought clarification if that was various small claims or a few bigger claims and if they were likely to be recurring. N Howcutt advised that it was a collection of small claims and he would provide Councillor Tindall with additional details.                                                                                               Action: N Howcutt


Councillor Tindall said he was concerned that we didnt recruit for Apprentices until November and queried why. He also asked what was happening to our Apprentices during the pandemic. N Howcutt said he had an Apprentice in the finance department and they were working as normal and from home like everyone else. He felt that giving them additional support from home was slightly more difficult but we were working with them as much as possible to support them via virtual channels.


L Roberts advised that the recruitment for Apprentices was due to start mid-year and that was down to getting the scheme set up and identifying what services were required. She confirmed that no Apprentices had been furloughed and they were working from home like many other individuals.


Councillor Symington referred to page 13 relating to £55k for repairs to sports centres. She asked for clarification on what it was for and how that fits in with the arrangements with Everyone Active.  N Howcutt advised that the costs were paid out at the beginning of the financial year and related to the parts of plant and equipment that are a DBC responsibility. 


Councillor Claughton referred to paragraph 7.2 and the HRA surplus of £884k. He asked if there was an option for councillors to decide where that money goes. N Howcutt advised that the bottom line surplus is transferred to the capital funding reserve. He said no decision would be made at this point on how those funds are spent, but as part of the budget setting process the capital programme and funding is approved.


Councillor Guest asked if we had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Quarter 4 Performance Report - Corporate and Contracted Services pdf icon PDF 139 KB

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M Brookes introduced the item and highlighted the successful court activities. He drew attention to the reports of project work and also the Berkhamsted multi-storey car park moving to completion in the next couple of months. He welcomed questions from the committee.


Councillor Tindall referred to page 37. He sought clarification on card payments and the suspension of three months. B Hosier said the office was closed so we were unable to take card payments. He advised that we had put the instalment payments on hold and there were no additional costs being incurred by the customer.


Councillor Tindall referred to page 42 on FOI requests. He felt it wasnt satisfactory to just say they were missed and asked for more detail. M Brookes advised that his service managed the process and distributed to the relevant departments for them to respond. He said the missed comment was just to identify which department was responsible for not responding. Councillor Tindall asked for more detail in future and M Brookes noted his request.


Councillor Barrett queried if we would have lost the £400k in legal costs if we hadnt have won the case against Tesco. M Brookes advised that we seek advice on the strength of a case before proceeding so if there was a risk of not being successful they wouldnt have gone ahead with it.


Councillor Symington sought clarification on the consultation for TROs (Traffic Regulation Orders) on Berkhamsted High Street adjacent to Manor Road. B Hosier explained that there was a TRO outside a chemist on the High Street and theyre consulting to move a parking bay in line with the other parking bays. He said they needed to hold a consultation on any changes to TROs.


Councillor Symington referred to the parking restrictions on Water Lane and queried if the time limit was reverting back from 2 hours to 4 hours and if they needed to consult on that. B Hosier said he would need to investigate the matter and come back to her.                                                                                   Action: B Hosier


The Chairman asked why there had been delays in responding to stage 1 complaints. M Brookes advised that there had been slippage which was partly due to Covid-19 but he was also reviewing options for complaints and looking at ways to streamline and improve the process. He said it was a tricky area and complaints can often be complicated but they were looking at ways to increase performance.

L Roberts added that there had been issues with the complaints relating to Property and Place but a new Group Manager, Jason Grace, was now in post and he had a lot of experience which she believed would help improve the performance of the service.



The report was noted.



Quarter 4 Performance Report - Performance, People & Innovation pdf icon PDF 81 KB


L Roberts introduced the report and advised that they did start to see the impact of Covid-19 towards the end of March. She said they continued to monitor and address issues around sickness through the scrutiny panel. She advised that a Health and Wellbeing Questionnaire was circulated to all staff to understand how theyre feeling and the responses were due to be analysed. The response rate was 47%.


With regards to ICT and digital services, she said we were very dependent on them at the moment and the use of Microsoft Teams had been very successful. She advised that our website user statistics were similar to the previous quarter but they expected that to increase with the offices being closed.


The Chairman asked if we had confirmed Covid-19 cases in DBC. L Roberts replied she couldnt be sure but if we did have confirmed cases it would have only been a couple.


Councillor Tindall said he understood we had recruited a Climate Emergency Officer and asked for more details. M Brookes advised an offer of appointment had been made to an internal individual that had a lot of experience but he couldnt give any more information at this stage.


Councillor Taylor referred to page 47 regarding robotic process automation and asked for more information. L Roberts explained they had run some pilot projects but these had been delayed due to having to pause for 8 weeks because of Covid-19. She said as of this week they were restarting and one of the projects had successfully posted 25,000 historical records on to the housing system which had proved extremely valuable. She advised that two of the other projects were in finance; one was how to code utility bills and the other related to invoice numbering. The final project was the most complex and related to case work on a multitude of systems. She said this would save a lot of officer time, particularly those in the Environmental Health team.


Councillor Taylor asked how co-operative departments were of automating their services. L Roberts advised there was a slight hesitation at first but actually the response had been fantastic and because of the success of remote working during the pandemic, she felt that departments werent as scared of the changes anymore.


The Chairman asked if there was a plan for staff to start returning to work. L Roberts explained that they were still encouraging staff to work from home as much as possible, particularly those without childcare provision due to school closures. She advised that B Hosier had been preparing the building for reopening in July to ensure we comply with social distancing measures.

M Brookes added that they will be limiting the amount of people in the building at one time and producing rotas for each service. A full list of measures can be found in the forthcoming Cabinet report.


Councillor Tindall queried if it was cost effective to open The Forum if we  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Quarter 4 Performance Report - Finance and Resources pdf icon PDF 85 KB

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N Howcutt summarised that 13 out of 16 KPIs were green and the remaining 3 were amber which were mainly due to timing issues. He said there were no significant areas of concern in terms of performance. He highlighted that the operational risk report was prior to Covid-19 so the next report will reflect higher scores and risks.


Councillor Tindall referred to page 13 on Council Tax and Business Rate collections. He wondered whether the risk score should be higher. N Howcutt advised they were reviewing the 20/21 operational risk register. He said they do expect businesses to find it harder to pay their rates in 20/21, but equally half of our business rates have been paid by the Government so the risk may be lower than perceived.



The report was noted.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 113 KB


The following changes were made to the work programme:



Add Garages update L Roberts

Add Covid-19 update N Howcutt



Add New Normal L Roberts


N Howcutt said he was building a timetable for MTFS (Medium Term Financial Strategy) and would come back with a date as soon as possible.


The Chairman asked members to let him know if there was anything they would like to see on the work programme so it can be discussed with the appropriate officers.