· Officer responses to Scrutiny feedback on initial saving proposals in the light of OSMB discussion on 2nd October 2015 Budget 2016/17 and MTFS Progress Update – Supplementary Paper.
Further to Minute No. 39 of the meeting held on 2nd October, 2015 Karl Battersby, Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services, responded to the feedback and issues requiring clarification on savings proposals previously submitted.
In terms of ASR Ref. EDS2 it was noted that the proposed increases would have a very minor impact on occupancy. Any adverse impact on occupancy at any meaningful level will mean the benefits could not be achieved. A 2% rental increase across all four business centres would result in an increase in an average charge of £1.50 to £2.00 per week per unit.
With regards to ASR Ref. EDS 16 the concerns were about a blanket increase in the town centre to increase income. This would not be the case as it was designed to get a general agreement to doing this on the understanding that rent increases in commercial properties were in the context only with current lease or when new leases were agreed or when reviewed to recover rents to a market level.
Councillor Hughes expressed his concerns as the margins in the town centre were so small and could place small businesses at risk of trading and for some not economically viable and would still conflict with supporting town centre businesses.
The Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services explained that there was a policy which effectively froze all rents which would only be reviewed as part of the portfolio management and would reflect modest changes.
Councillors Mallinder and Reynolds supported Councillor Hughes’ view to prevent any conflict for town centre businesses.
The Overview and Scrutiny Management Board were unable to support this suggestion and believed the £5,000 rental increase to be minor in comparison and suggested it be referred back.
ASR Ref. EDS 16 also included the cessation of payment of churchyard maintenance. This was a small discretionary amount that was paid to Church Councils and would not lead to any significant health and safety issues as it only covered grass cutting and tree pruning.
Councillor Wyatt confirmed this small amount applied only to open churchyards and supported service provision.
ASR Ref. EDS 21 referred to the proposed reduction of the CCTV budget and the potential to introduce an RMBC-owned fibre communications network in the town centre. There was not much further detail to provide due to the fast moving pace of technology and the detailed work had not yet been carried out and would require an invest to save project being developed.
In terms of RES ASR 12 it was noted that the support across the officer leadership team was being reviewed.
Resolved:- (1) That the minutes of the previous meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board, held on 2nd October, 2015, be approved as a correct record for signature by the Chairman.
(2) That, with regard to Minute No. 39 (Budget 2016/17 and Medium Term Financial Strategy Progress Update) of the previous meeting held on 2nd October, 2015, the Officer responses to the feedback from the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board on the initial saving proposals, as detailed in the supplementary paper, as submitted under matters arising, be noted.
(3) That ASR Ref. EDS 16 (Increasing Rental Income) be referred back as the Board were unable to support this proposal.
(Councillor Hughes declared a disclosable pecuniary interest on the grounds that he was a town centre tenant in relation to ASR Ref. EDS16)
(Councillor Wyatt declared a non-pecuniary interest on the grounds that he was a member of the Parochial Church Council for St. Margaret’s at Swinton)