Agenda item

Programme of portfolio holder attendance

Report of the Democratic Services Manager


Members welcomed Councillor John Clarke, Leader of the Council, to the meeting to examine his portfolio. Councillor Clarke provided an update to members on some key happenings in his portfolio, giving them the opportunity to ask any questions after.




Councillor Clarke informed Members that the devolution deal was signed for Derby/Derbyshire and Nottingham/Nottinghamshire on 30 August 2022. The deal is worth £38 million per year for 30 years, resulting in a total of £1.14 billion and will include the election of a new Mayor in May 2024. This will be called The East Midlands Mayoral Combined County Authority (MCCA).


In addition to this, a further £17 million for the building of new homes on brownfield land is planned in 2024/25 and £18 million to support the delivery of housing priorities and drive net zero ambitions in the East Midlands area.


The MCCA will integrate the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnerships, not including the Police and Crime Commissioner or the fire authority. This means that Gedling Borough Council will retain its autonomy and existing powers.


The deal focuses on central government giving funding and powers to the East Midlands to provide more and better jobs, economic growth, better transport, housing, schools, training and will enhance green environments through greater investment in the area.


The LGA peer review:


The LGA peer review took place between 21 June and 23 June. The key points from the feedback were:


1)    Gedling is a well-regarded authority where councillors are hardworking and dedicated to local residents;


2)    The workforce is highly enthusiastic and committed to deliver for the borough; and


3)    Gedling Borough Council handled the Covid-19 pandemic well and is working through the recovery phase. Gedling Borough Council planned ahead and was able to actively support its residents during the much of the most active phase of the pandemic.


Recommendations for improvement have been suggested in the draft report which is currently in the process of being finalised. To accompany the recommendations, an action plan is being prepared. Both the report and the action plan will be reported to Cabinet in the near future.


National pay award:


National employers for local government services made a pay offer on 25 July 2022 with effect from 1 April 2022 detailing an increase of £1925 on all of the NJC pay points 1 and above. It was noted that if this is agreed the cost to Gedling Borough Council will be circa £950,000 with only £420,000 built into the budget, resulting in a shortfall of £530,000 to be found from balances as an interim solution with a more permanent solution to be determined. No contribution towards this sum has been announced by central government so far. Gedling Borough Council are also looking at options to enhance the national offer at a local level.


As a result of the cost of living crisis, officers are planning to take a report to Cabinet that explains all of the measures the council are taking to support its residents; including the energy bills rebate, paying the energy bills local discretionary scheme, awarding an additional £30 towards local residents on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, and providing helpful links to other support agencies and benefits available.


Levelling up and the shared prosperity fund


The Levelling Up bid was submitted at the beginning of August for £50 million for the redevelopment of Arnold North including a new leisure centre, library and cinema theatre. The announcement date is currently unknown, however the decision is expected to be received this year.


The shared investment fund required an investment plan to be submitted at the start of August. It focused on sharing the benefits between businesses and schools across the borough. The announcement date is currently unknown.


Q1 budget


It was noted that there is predicted to be underspend of £46,000 at year end which will be transferred to the Inflationary Pressures Contingency Reserve. Major variances are concerning the cost of energy and potential pay awards as the cost of pay will be in excess of £0.5 million.


The budget approved in March 2022, allowed for an increase in energy cost of £110,000 and fuel costs of £43,000. At Q1, the council is estimating that the cost of energy will increase further resulting in the cost of another £121,000 and fuel costing £45.000. A total cost of £319,000 is the expected cost for the year.


The energy bills rebate has awarded a total of £6.8 million out of the £7 million available for the rebate, which equates to 97% of the residents in total. It was noted that the majority of all payments have now been paid.


Temporary accommodation and homelessness.


To date, the council has purchased six properties for temporary accommodation, with another one which has also been accepted. The council has also leased two further properties with a contract end date of March 2024, with another in process. The council is currently looking at two more properties which can be extended past the March 2024 deadline if necessary.


It was noted that at the end of August 2022 the council had 27 families in temporary accommodation but only 10 in bed and breakfast. This is reduced from the councils high of 18 residents in June 2021 in bed and breakfast.


Members queries what difference the devolution deal will make for Gedling Borough Council specifically, to which Councillor Clarke confirmed:


1)    The council will retain its autonomy which will ensure residents are still able to visit their local authority;


2)    The Mayor will be easier to get to than going to government;


3)    There will be a considerable amount of benefits from working with 19 other authorities; and


4)    It will result in improved prospects for work.

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