Cabinet round-up 6 June 2018
Financial and performance management report to end of quarter four (Jan – Mar 2018)
The Council approved a General Fund Revenue Budget of £13,825,060 for the 2017-18 financial year and this report revealed a surplus of £4,868 on the revenue account.
Cabinet was told that although these figures are encouraging they have not yet been audited.
Whilst there were adverse variances against some budget areas, these have been offset by positive variances in others.
Members were told that a significant amount of work had taken place during recent months to transform a £300,000 plus deficit into the small surplus
Deputy Leader Stephen Sweeney, Cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “Since we took control of the Council at the end of last year we have worked extremely hard to bring the financial position back into the black.
“This is against a background of unbudgeted expenditure of £163,000 on elections, a £330,000 deficit in what we expected from recycling materials and also a shortfall in parking income. “
The meeting heard that the Council’s capital balance currently stands at a minimum. The contingency funds available for any urgent/essential works only amount to £277,000.
Members were told it is imperative that sites earmarked for disposal within the Asset Management Strategy are progressed as soon as possible as any delays will only worsen the Council’s overall financial position.
On the performance side, Cabinet heard that this report focused on a total of 22 indicators and the proportion of those which have met their target or are within tolerance levels during this period stands at 72 per cent.
There are seven indicators off target this quarter and one indicator is within tolerance levels.
Officers consider that the performance against these indicators does not give rise to serious cause for concern at present.
Keele Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan
Following a consultation process, the Council’s Planning Committee recommended to Cabinet that the Council adopt a Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan for Keele Conservation Area.
The appraisal concludes that the key issues in the area are:-
- Retaining the landscape character of the village and high density of mature trees and hedgerows.
- Protecting architectural features on buildings and preventing incremental alterations to houses.
- Maintaining a vibrant village life once the students leave the Hawthorns campus.
- Maintaining the historic sandstone walls along the roads within the village.
- Congestion in the village through parking.
Cabinet was told the purpose of the Management Plan is to provide a framework for future actions.
One key change is to amend the boundary to include the area of former student halls of residence known as The Hawthorns which is currently being developed for housing.
Cllr. Simon Tagg, Leader of the Council, said: “This is an active step towards protecting Keele in the future from development that does not meet the character and design that we want for that area.”
Newcastle Economic Development Strategy – Year One Action Plan
Cabinet approved an action plan for the first year of the Council‘s Economic Development Strategy.
Members were told that partnership working is at the heart of the Council’s approach to economic regeneration. Through its partnerships, the Council has supported businesses in the borough to grow, increased opportunities for employment, secured investment to develop cultural tourism and increased footfall in town centres.
The meeting was told that a highlight of 2018 is the celebration of the borough’s cultural heritage which has seen internationally acclaimed No Fit State Circus and Circolombia perform to capacity audiences Newcastle and Kidsgrove town centres providing further boosts to the local economy.
In the period of this strategy, the Council has said it will continue to support and work with partners such as the Business Improvement District (BID) to build on its good work, notably in relation to the town centre activities programme which continues to grow in stature with annual highlights firmly embedded in the programme such as the Lymelight Festival along with the Jazz and Blues Festival. Such events will be vitally important to ensure that Newcastle Town Centre remains the local centre of choice for the borough’s residents given the evident challenges for the retail sector.
Key priorities for Year One include:-
- Business development and focus on small to medium enterprises (SMEs) - via the Business Boost Competition (10 year celebrations) and awards evening.
- Procurement – focus on the opportunity to keep business local and increase the local pound.
- Newcastle BID and Go Kidsgrove - focus on cultural tourism to attract more businesses into town to increase footfall; secure external funding from Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England.
- Ryecroft Development – continue to work with the preferred developer to facilitate redevelopment of the site and explore temporary use of the site in advance of works for events to encourage more visitors and increase footfall in the town centre.
- Enterprise Zone – Chatterley Valley (work with partners to support the developer to progress with the site).
- Joint Local Plan – support planning policy to progress this work with the City Council to provide a clear framework for future economic growth.
- Employment and skills – co-ordinate the Newcastle Employment and Skills Group to address key issues across the borough and work with the Stoke and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership to deliver the Skills Strategy
- Keele Science and Innovation Park (KSIP) – in line with the Keele Deal provide support for further development of KSIP and the master planning in relation to that area.
Duty to co-operate
The Council has put in place a “Statement of Common Ground” (SCOG) which sets out a framework for future collaboration on identified strategic cross boundary planning issues between Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire Moorlands, Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford borough.
At a summary level there are no adverse implications arising from the SCOG whilst the implications for the Borough Council, as it moves from the Preferred Options stage to draft Joint Local Plan, are as follows:-
a. Housing – that along with SoTCC, the Borough is unable to assist in meeting Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s (SMDC) housing development requirements due the fact that the Joint Local Plan is in the early stages of preparation and the Preferred Options Document has identified a shortfall in housing supply within the Housing Market Area which would need to be resolved before consideration of housing need arising from Staffordshire Moorlands could be considered.
b. Gypsies and Travelling Showpeople – that at this stage the Borough Council is not in a position to identify suitable and /or available land within the borough to accommodate its own needs, or the needs of other local authorities. Furthermore the shortfall of housing and employment land within the borough means that the Borough Council is unable to accommodate any potentially arising unmet gypsy and traveller needs from neighbouring authorities due to a lack of available land
c. Employment – that all four authorities will liaise on future consideration and evidence gathering in relation to employment requirements and provision undertaken as part of future plan making
d. Infrastructure – that all four authorities agree to co-ordinate green infrastructure strategies and any subsequent delivery plans to ensure a consistent and complementary approach
e. Green Belt – that the authorities will liaise on any future Green Belt reviews that would affect shared Green Belt boundaries in order to consider the merits of a consistent approach
f. Constellation Partnership – that emerging or future Local Plans will have regard to the Constellation Partnership’s Growth Strategy. This is linked to HSE-related developments.
g. Blyth Vale Strategic Allocation – that the Borough Council considers that the proposed employment land allocation at Blyth Vale (the southern part of the ‘site’) should be protected from being developed for housing and promoted for B2/B8 uses, the site having been identified in the 2015 Employment Land Review as playing an important role in meeting the investment needs of the Stoke and Newcastle conurbation.
Anti-social Behaviour (ASB) Policy and Procedure
In summary the new ASB Policy:-
- Defines the Council’s approach to tackling ASB in partnership with other statutory agencies.
- Sets out the Council’s commitment to reducing anti-social behaviour, improving the quality of life for local people and reducing crime and fear of crime.
- Encourages residents to resolve issues themselves wherever possible and where problems escalate into more serious and wide spread issues, confirms that the Council will proactively work with partners and residents to tackle ASB in our communities.
- Incorporates the revised definition of ASB included within the 2014 legislation.
- Highlights the types of ASB recognised by the Council.
- Outlines what the Council is unlikely to be able to investigate or assist with e.g. private disputes, legally parked vehicles, household noise etc.
- Explains how cases with be managed and risk assessed by the Partnerships Team.
- Explains how the Council will approach Data Protection and other legislative requirements regarding information sharing.
Cabinet was told that this policy will be reviewed every three years.
Full details of all reports considered by Cabinet are available on the Borough Council’s website – www.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk – under the “Your Council” section.