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1.1 The Leader welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations by Members and Officers of the existence and nature of any personal or prejudicial interests in matters on this agenda.
2.1 There were no declarations of interest.
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 30 October 2017.
3.1 The Leader, with the consent of the Members present, signed the minutes of the meeting held on 30 October 2017 as a true and correct record of the proceedings.
Report of Executive Director of Growth, Planning and Housing
4.1 Councillor Rachael Robathan, Cabinet Member for Housing, introduced the item and stated that there had been a re-consideration of how to deliver more housing, particularly affordable housing, improve the market including providing more market space, and to increase green space by 40% for Church Street. The Church Street Masterplan did not seek to provide detailed plans, but to set a framework for other plans that would require further, subsequent approvals. The Masterplan covered a 20 year period which set out an ambitious framework for Church Street. Councillor Robathan stated that the consultation on the Masterplan had been extended to 2 months following a request from Ward Councillors and there had been significant engagement with local residents and businesses, with a number of consultation events held. Furthermore, the Housing, Finance and Corporate Services Policy and Scrutiny Committee had recognised that the consultation had gone well.
4.2 Councillor Robathan thanked the Church Street Futures Steering Group for its input during the consultation and commented on the Steering Group’s broad representation which included residents, businesses, neighbourhood forums and Ward Councillors. The Steering Group played an important role as a partner to the Council in providing advice and challenging and testing ideas.
4.3 Councillor Aicha Less then addressed the Cabinet as a Ward Councillor. Councillor Less stated that Ward Councillors were generally supportive of the Church Street Masterplan which the area needed and which also had the support of local residents. Councillor Less stated that she knew the area well as she lives locally and that Church Street had a unique and vibrant community. She stated that the Residents Committee had worked tirelessly to ensure that the Masterplan had the right balance and had made a significant contribution to the consultation. However, Councillor Less felt that there had not been much reference to the Residents Committee in the report and some of their comments had not been taken on board and this needed to be addressed. Residents had particular concerns about proposals for a 16 storey building on the south side of Church Street and she suggested that this proposal be put on hold whilst a policy for tall buildings was established. Councillor Less stated that she awaited a response from CityWest Homes in respect of their assessment of the conditions of the existing blocks and that a thorough survey should be undertaken. She also was not aware of any proposals for an alternative sheltered housing after Lambourne House was to be demolished.
4.4 Councillor Barbara Grahame, a Ward Councillor, then addressed the Cabinet on behalf of residents, including Alan Stirling who had lived in the area for a number of years. Councillor Grahame began by stating that the original Masterplan’s proposals would have provided insufficient housing, especially as Church Street was very densely populated and absorbing new homes would be difficult. The local community had been offered the opportunity to shape the Masterplan during the consultation and Councillor Grahame asked whether the views expressed in the consultation had made any changes to ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Report of the Chief Executive
5.1 Charlie Parker, Chief Executive, introduced the item and stated that the report provided an update on bi-borough services discussions that had started in March following Cabinet’s decision to serve notice on the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF). A Members Steering Group had been set up and the report included a number of proposals in respect of bi-borough services.
5.2 Siobhan Coldwell, Chief of Staff, Chief Executive’s Office, then addressed the Cabinet and stated that considerable time had been spent developing proposals for new structures over the last few months and these intended to deliver savings whilst not impacting on services. It was intended to continue to share a number of services with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Siobhan Coldwell referred to estimated costs to the Council as set out in section 14.2 of the report and stated that every effort had been made to mitigate costs where possible. The proposed integrated commissioning would also provide resilience and career structures.
5.3 Siobhan Coldwell advised that it was proposed that more IT related areas in respect of Adult Social Care would move back to the Council and RBKC on a bi-borough basis. A small number of services would remain tri-borough where they were operating well and where there would be little sense in scaling these down. Although there was potential upheaval for some staff, most would not be impacted by the changes. Where staff are to be affected, redeployment options would be explored. Siobhan Coldwell stated that there was a 12 month exit process in respect of terminating the Section 113 agreement with LBHF and it was expected that most of transition to bi-borough services would be completed by March 2018, however a longer time for completion to bi-borough arrangements would be given in areas where this made sense. However, it was anticipated that the bi-borough transition would be complete by the end of the 2018-19 financial year. Siobhan Coldwell added that the final costs of the changes would not be known until next year.
5.4 Councillor Davis, in acknowledging that this was Siobhan Coldwell’s last Cabinet meeting before leaving the Council to take up another post, thanked her for all her work. Councillor Acton echoed Councillor Davis’s comments and commented that it was important to maintain services in respect of Adult Social Care and Public Health.
5.5 The Leader stated that the Council had not initially wanted to withdraw from tri-borough arrangements, however it had little choice but to do so because of LBHF’s situation. She thanked officers for the work that had been put into proposing bi-borough arrangements.
1. Approved the proposal to enter a shared service arrangement with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) for Children’s, Adults and Public Health Services.
2. Approved the timetable for transition to the new service arrangements as outlined in the report and noted that some elements will be phased.
3. Approved the proposal to continue sharing a small number of services ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Report of the Executive Director, Growth, Planning and Housing
6.1 Councillor Robathan introduced the report and advised that the proposal to establish a housing company would help deliver more homes, including affordable homes, in Westminster. The new company would be able to deliver a range of activities to boost housing and funding would be accessed from the General Fund.
6.2 Barbara Brownlee stated that the proposal to set up a wholly owned housing company had been recommended by a review of strategic housing options undertaken by Deloitte in April 2017. Section 3.5 of the report set out the housing company’s objectives and it would work with external finance and tax experts. Barbara Brownlee added that any site that the housing company was proposed to be involved in developing would require Cabinet approval.
1. That the establishment of a Wholly Owned Housing Company be approved for, initially, delivery of intermediate and market housing in the City and, if approved, that a long list of proposed development schemes include the Wholly Owned Housing Company as an option for delivery and development.
2. That arrangements to establish a second Wholly Owned Housing Company, where appropriate, be approved, in order to simplify the VAT accounting and reduce potential VAT leakage whilst at the same time helping the Council to meet its strategic objectives of having the flexibility to either sell, transfer or let residential properties.
3. That provision be made by means of a virement in the Council’s General Fund capital programme for 2018/19 in respect of any scheme which is determined in due course to be delivered through the Wholly Owned Housing Company.
4. That Appendices C and D attached of this report be exempt from disclosure by virtue of the Local Government Act 1972 Schedule 12A, Part 1, paragraph 3 as amended, in that they contain information relating to the financial or business affairs of Westminster City Council and in the case of Appendix D legal advice.
6.4 Reasons for Decision
1. The supply of social/affordable housing in Westminster cannot keep pace with demand. The Greater London Authority predictions are for continuing increases in London’s population from 8.2 million in 2011 to 9.2 million in 2021 and up to 10.1 million in 2036. Private rents are amongst the highest in the UK with only RBKC and the City of London above Westminster.
2. The risk of insufficient housing across the City, that is affordable by Westminster residents, is one of the Council’s principle risks. It has a major impact on the General Fund where the costs of providing temporary accommodation are increasing.
3. The principle mitigation is to increase housing delivery through Council-led projects and the Council has made a commitment to provide at least 1,850 affordable homes by 2023. The aim is to ensure that, from the most vulnerable and low income households to those middle income households, all have access to the type and quality of accommodation to meet their needs.
4. However, whilst much activity is underway, the Council needs to do more. The report on ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Report of the City Treasurer.
7.1 Steven Mair, City Treasurer, introduced the report that was a statutory requirement for local authorities to provide and would be required to subsequently be approved by Full Council following Cabinet approval. There were no changes proposed to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and Council Tax discounts, apart from the recent Cabinet Member for Children Services approval of the granting of a 100% Council Tax discount for care leavers for a period of 3 years. It was also proposed that the Long Term Empty Property Premium be introduced at the maximum percentage allowed for by the relevant legislation.
7.2 Councillor Tim Mitchell, Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Corporate Services, added that under the Government’s current proposals, the Council would be able to charge an additional 100% on Council Tax for long term empty properties, however this was subject to legislative implementation.
7.3 The Leader welcomed the initiatives in respect of long term empty homes and care leavers, the latter demonstrating the Council’s commitment as a corporate parent.
1. That the Cabinet recommended that the Council approve the following recommendations for the financial year 2018/19:
(i) that the Council Tax discount for second homes remains at 0%
(ii) the Council Tax discounts for empty properties, including the discounts that replaced the previous Class A and C Council Tax exemptions, remain at 0%
(iii) that a Long Term Empty Property Premium is introduced at the maximum percentage allowed for by the relevant legislation
(iv) that the Head of Revenues & Benefits be given delegated authority to determine any individual local discount applications received from Council Taxpayers during the course of the 2018/19 financial year under section 13A(1)(c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.
2. That the Cabinet recommended that the Council approve the same Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2018/19 which has operated successfully since 2013/14 and noted that the scheme is based on the Default Scheme Regulations, updated to reflect changes made via the Prescribed Requirements Amendment Regulations and with War Disabled Pensions, War Widow, Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation scheme payments disregarded in full when calculating a claimant’s income.
3. That the Cabinet recommended to the Council to resolve that the Council Tax Base for 2018/19 for the Whole City is 128,833.30equivalent Band D properties, for Montpelier Square alone 95.68 equivalent Band D properties and for Queen’s Park 3,406.61 equivalent Band D properties.
4. That the Cabinet recommended to the Council to resolve that the figures as set out in decision 3 above for the Council Tax Base for 2018/19 be used by the Council to make a determination pursuant to the requirements of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.
7.5 Reasons for Decision
1. The taxbase decision is sought in order that the Council complies with the requirements of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.
2. The retention of the same levels of Council Tax discount, for empty properties and second homes will continue to deliver additional Council Tax income for the Council without ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Report of the Bi-borough Director of Corporate Services.
8.1 John Quinn, Director of Corporate Services, presented the report and stated that the current contract with BT expires in May 2019. There were no intentions to extend this contract and the proposal to join Hampshire Partnership offered the opportunity to work with an organisation that had extensive experience working with other local authorities. John Quinn advised that the Hampshire Partnership currently worked with Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services and Oxfordshire County Council. Organisations had commented positively on their experiences of the Partnership. John Quinn advised that the agreement would be on a partner basis and not a contract and the Council could withdraw from the partnership with 12 months’ notice. He added that Deloitte would facilitate the implementation of joining the partnership.
8.2 Councillor Mitchell stated that there had been considerable work involved in identifying an alternative partner and he thanked John Quinn and Jeremy Beresford, ICF Manager, for their efforts. In respect of governance, as the Council was to be a partner and not a client, Councillor Mitchell emphasised the need to ensure that this was a true partnership and to work jointly with partners.
8.3 The Leader welcomed the proposals and thanked John Quinn and officers for their efforts.
a. That approval be given for Westminster City Council to accept the offer to join the Hampshire Partnership as an Operational Partner through a sovereign deed of accession.
b. That the Bi-borough Director of Corporate Services, in consultation with the City Treasurer, Director of People Services and the Cabinet Member for Finance, Property & Corporate Services, be delegated authority to approve and enter into the agreements and to take such other actions as are necessary to implement the decision recommended as set out in a. above and to terminate the contract with BT.
c. That the procurement of additional services and systems to supplement the Hampshire solution be delegated to the Bi-Borough Director of Corporate Services, in consultation with the City Treasurer and the Director of People Services, for their respective areas and the Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Corporate Services, subject to this being achieved within the cost envelope as specified in the confidential Part B report.
d. That Deloitte be appointed as the primary implementation partner.
e. That the Bi-borough Director of Corporate Services, in consultation with the City Treasurer, the Director of People Services and the Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Corporate Services, be delegated authority to procure additional implementation support from Deloitte and/or others for a total cost not exceeding that as specified in the confidential Part B report.
8.5 Reasons for Decision
Westminster City Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have agreed that they will not seek to extend the managed services contract beyond its end date of May 2019.
Any Other Business which the Chairman considers urgent
9.1 The Leader, in acknowledging that this was Charlie Parker’s last Cabinet meeting before he leaves the Council to take up another post, thanked him for all his work and achievements as Chief Executive. She stated that the Council was in a strong position as a result of his actions and she referred to his initiatives regarding the Staff Conference and changes to People Services as examples of his achievements. The Leader then wished Charlie Parker well in his new role.
9.2 The Leader similarly thanked Siobhan Coldwell for her service to the Council and wished her well in her new role.
Exclusion of Press and Public
RECOMMENDED: That under Section 100 (A) (4) and Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item(s) of business because they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information on the grounds shown below and it is considered that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information:
10.1 That under Section 100 (A) (4) and Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business below because they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information on the grounds shown below and it is considered that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Managed Services for HR, Payroll and Finance - Financial/Contractual Matters
11.1 The Cabinet considered and agreed a confidential report on Managed Services for HR, Payroll and Finance - Financial/Contractual Matters.