Agenda and draft minutes

Finance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny - Tuesday, 6th July, 2021 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, The Forum. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

Items
No. Item

33.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 250 KB

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 8 June 2021 were agreed by the members present and then signed by the Chairman.

 

Councillor Tindall apologised that he hadn’t got round to contacting the Chairman and Vice-Chairman regarding items for the work programme. He said he would action this as soon as he could.

 

Councillor Claughton asked a question on behalf of Councillor Symington. He noted in the minutes of the previous meeting that Ben Hosier said he would update the committee on whether the Portfolio Holder Decision in relation to parking in Berkhamsted High Street would be proceeding or not. He was aware that Berkhamsted Town Council had decided to withdraw from the scheme so he assumed the decision was not going ahead.

 

Councillor Williams confirmed that assumption was correct. Following the last meeting he received notification from the Town Council that they didn’t wish to proceed and so there was no need for the Portfolio Holder Decision.

 

34.

Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillors Guest and Elliot.

 

Councillor Symington was required to self-isolate so was unable to attend the meeting.

 

35.

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]

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

36.

Public Participation

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

Minutes:

There was no public participation.

 

37.

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

Minutes:

None.

38.

Action points from the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 169 KB

All action points from the previous meeting have been completed.

Minutes:

The Chairman advised there were no outstanding action points from the previous meeting.

 

39.

Business Grants Presentation

Nigel Howcutt (Assistant Director – Finance and Resources) will be providing a presentation to the committee on the distribution of Business Grants.

Minutes:

N Howcutt provided a presentation to the committee detailing the distribution of Business Grants in the Borough.

 

Questions:

 

Councillor Tindall firstly thanked all the officers involved in distributing business grants and felt they had done a marvellous job. He understood it was difficult to interpret some of the government guidance. He noted that the local government chronicle were saying that the government data they were using was inaccurate which led to a surplus of around £4billion in councils nationally, and councils were being accused of not distributing all the cash they had. He asked if N Howcutt agreed with that assessment.

 

C Baker advised there was no way the government could have had the level of data needed to know the exact amount of money every local council should have. The data they were looking at to make their estimates was to ensure councils had the cash flow to be able to pay the grants and they only had access to the rating list information which gives indications of what a building was but not how a building was being used and that was part of the grant eligibility. He felt it was better that they overestimated than underestimated.

 

Council Tindall asked if it would be possible to identify the businesses that weren’t able to receive sufficient funding or lost out altogether because of the guidance we had to follow.

 

N Howcutt advised they had done several wash-ups, particularly when they’ve been looking at the criteria for the ARG (Additional Restrictions Grants) and a lot of businesses had received various different levels of support from different areas. Whether businesses will perceive the level of support to be substantial or not will vary from individual to individual. He felt the support we had provided had been significant but there was one area we struggled due to government supports such as grants to big businesses, the furlough scheme and self-employment support as we’ve not been able to access a lot of that data which makes our wash-ups quite difficult and time consuming. He advised we would have another round of ARG post August and then we will have another wash-up.

 

Councillor Claughton congratulated N Howcutt and his team for finding their way through this maze and getting grant money out to businesses. He said he was made aware of frustration from individuals not knowing where to go to apply for grants, what the eligibility was etc. however the frustration did ease slightly when the restart grants were going out as it was better signposted on our website. He understood it must have placed an extra burden on our staff but he did feel it made it easier to handle. He questioned how they would handle the grant presentation differently and if we could improve on communication, should we end up in this position again in the future.

 

N Howcutt agreed with some of the comments and suggested we learnt a lot of lessons along the way. He said we used the website  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.

40.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Minutes:

The Chairman suggested an item for the local community impact post pandemic.

 

N Howcutt advised Chris Taylor and her team had delivered presentations on this topic at the Strategic Planning and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee (SPAE OSC). He said anything to do with financial impacts would be presented to this committee.

 

The Chairman highlighted that September was a full meeting so nothing should be added until October onwards.

 

Councillor Townsend requested a report on car parking charges and whether we’re getting value for money. The Chairman said that request would be put forward to the responsible officer.