Venue: Committee Rooms 2 and 3, Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Road, Stretford M32 0TH
Contact: Alexander Murray Governance Officer
To note attendances, including officers, and any apologies for absence.
An apology for absence was received from Councillor Hynes (Deputy Leader).
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members to give notice of any interest and the nature of that interest relating to any item on the agenda in accordance with the adopted Code of Conduct.
No declarations of interest were received.
QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC
A maximum of 15 minutes will be allocated to public questions submitted in writing to Democratic Services (email@example.com) by 4 p.m. on the working day prior to the meeting. Questions must be relevant to items appearing on the agenda and will be submitted in the order in which they were received.
The Head of Legal and Governance read out questions which had been received from Chris Boyes, a member of the public, and the Head of Legal and Governance provided responses at the meeting which would be provided in writing to the member of the public and captured below.
Question 1 – “With regard to the Treasury Management report please could the Executive Member for Finance give information as to why the following two funds have been preferred for significant additional deposits/investment namely Invesco and Legal and General.
The Executive Member for Finance Change and Governance responded. “The Council invests monies which are available for example grants received in advance of spends requirement from the balances and reserves which it holds. In making an investment the first priority is to ensure an approved level of security and liquidity of Council funds is maintained and then to achieve a revenue return. These investments are made in accordance with the Treasury Management and Investment Strategy approved by Council in February each year. The Strategy provides the framework of limits and criteria which in conjunction with regular updates and credit ratings and independent counter party advice allows the Council’s Treasury Management team to invest funds appropriately. The investment reference in question have been placed in accordance with this Strategy and are with the approved limits for that investment group. They are instant access short term investments placed to provide a return to the Council while maintaining the liquidity requirements of the Council’s cash flow.”
Qusetion 2 – relates to the Corporate Plan section 2.3. “In respect of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, I’ve noted noted several times daytime that the charging points at Sale Water Park were not being used by any vehicle. Could the appropriate Executive Member advise the terms on which the Council receive financial remuneration from useage of the EV Charging throughout the Borough and the level of remuneration that’s been received on each of the last three months in particular, from the multiple installation at the Water Park.”
In response the Corporate Director for Change informed Members that in view of the technical nature of the question a written response would be provided following the meeting.
MATTERS FROM COUNCIL OR OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEES (IF ANY)
To consider any matters referred by the Council or by the Overview and Scrutiny Committees.
a. Access to Council Services report.
The Chair of Overview and Scrutiny presented a report regarding Access to Council Services. This report follows a request for information on the performance of services in answering calls. The Scrutiny Committee discovered that this information is not recorded apart from calls to the Council’s contact centre. The Scrutiny Committee recommend that the Executive take action to address this gap in service and provide assurance to the Committee and residents that all services are contactable by members of the public with up to date numbers on Departmental websites.
To receive and, if so determined, to approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on the 15th November 2023.
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 15 November 2023 be approved as an accurate record.
To note a report from the Director of Finance and Systems.
The Executive Member for Finance Change and Governance presented the Treasury Management 2023-24 Mid-Year Performance Report. This report gives Members a summary of the Treasury Management activities undertaken for the first half of 2023/24 as follows;
· The level of external debt fell from £318.1m at 31 March to £303.1m at 30 September 2023,
· Gross loan interest costs totalling £8.4m are to be contained within the current year budget provision,
· The level of investments reduced from £70.4m at 31 March to £69.4m at 30 September 2023,
· Estimated external investment interest to be earned for 2023/24 of £3.39m is £0.97m above the £2.42m current year budget requirement,
· The average rate of return achieved during the period April to September 2023 was 4.72%, or 0.14% below the comparable performance indicator of average 1 Month Sterling Overnight Index Average (SONIA) interest rate of 4.86%.
· The Council complied with its legislative and regulatory requirements and
· There were no breaches of prudential indicators.
The Executive Member drew attention for the need for each Member to feel confident about asking questions on Technical subject matters and informed Members that there will be training available in January for all Members in relation to Prudential Indicators and Treasury Management.
I response to a query regarding external debt to finance and in year borrowings and regarding the £36million debt which moves through the years to 2025-26 to £717 million and was this the best way to deal with this debt and, how much of the 18 Public Works Loan Board loans are at the 9 per cent rate.
The Finance and Statutory S151 Officer informed Members that on the phasing of borrowings what we are mindful of doing is reflecting where the capital programme and the asset Strategy projections are going and that what we are doing so it’s a reflection of when our planned spend, particularly that spend that’s financed by borrowing is going to take place and that is a reflection of delivery of projects. Regarding debt costs, the table in the report that indicates what our average interest rates are on or debt at the end of September Paragraph 4.1 of the report refers. So we are looking at at average rate of 2.55 per cent. The majority of our debt is at the lower rates of interest as opposed to high given where the average rate is. He would confirm the exact number to Members following the meeting.
On a query regarding the operational boundary for external debt investment strategy being £375 million and the reference to authorisation for $500 million borrowing and also what is meant by under borrowed, the Finance and Statutory S151 Officer informed Members that the $375 million reflects our budgeted need in 2023-24 so it doesn’t reflect what is already gone. The overall value of the investment fund is still £500 million. Some of this might be undertaken in 2022-23 and that is the reason why it is not showing £500 million. Regarding the term ... view the full minutes text for item 67.
To note a report from the Leader of the Council on the Council’s Corporate Plan.
The Leader presented a report which provides a summary of performance against the Council’s Corporate Plan 2023-24. The report covers highlights form April 2023 to September 2023. He drew attention to the priorities for 2021-24 split into three sections –
· Reducing Health Inequalities
· Supporting People out of poverty
· Addressing of Climate Crisis
Each Strategic priority has a number of key performance indicators and the table Appendix 1 attached to the report provides a summary of the indicators and information regarding current performance. A red amber green status is also shown in the Appendix that gives an indication whether performance is improving or declining based on target.
The Leader informed Members that it is a good story to tell. There has been over the years some progression with school street schemes, improvement in affordable housing completions, recycling rates are good and library borrowing remains very healthy. We will be looking to refresh the Plan over the next few months and engage with partners and other people in 2024 with the final Plan being available in the summer.
In referencing a comment raised regarding addressing our climate crisis, paragraph 2.3 of the report refers, the Leader was delighted to acknowledge the new resource in place to respond to the climate crisis and emphasised that the new resources such as this does help deliver on our priorities.
The Executive Member for Finance Change and Governance welcomed the report and the work that Trafford undertakes and made particular reference to the following –
· Following the conclusion of the Trafford Poverty Truth Commission Trafford has adopted the four recommendations on how to focus our work to alleviate and end poverty in Trafford.
· Pleased to secure funding at Longford Park and the deculverting of the brook and lessons to be learned in other green spaces.
· The putting together of a developer hub for Trafford for people wanting to build and is a One Stop point of information.
· The employment rate – renewing of the Trafford Educating Enterprising Skills Action Plan.
· Encouragement of the over 50’s workforce back into the labour market who had decided to withdraw from the labour marker following COVID.
It was suggested that there should be an extra part under other highlights to recognise parks and green spaces which was awarded eleven green flags this summer under challenging conditions and a very small budget.
Reference was also made to the programme of urban tree planting and woodland creation and work with the City of Trees. They have officers at ten local authorities and they work with community groups and organisations.
Members attention was drawn to the health and equalities around smoking and smoking cestation and the work which is being done around the vaping and substance misuse problems in our communities and to give our residents a healthier environment. Reference was made to the highlighting in the report of the percentage take up of funded childcare for two year olds. We are second in the north west and eighth nationally so this ... view the full minutes text for item 68.
URGENT BUSINESS (IF ANY)
Any other item or items which by reason of:-
(a) Regulation 11 of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012, the Chairman of the meeting, with the agreement of the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chairman, is of the opinion should be considered at this meeting as a matter of urgency as it relates to a key decision; or
(b) special circumstances (to be specified) the Chairman of the meeting is of the opinion should be considered at this meeting as a matter of urgency.
There were no items of urgent business.
Motion (Which may be amended as Members think fit):
That the public be excluded from this meeting during consideration of the remaining items on the agenda, because of the likelihood of disclosure of “exempt information” which falls within one or more descriptive category or categories of the Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12A, as amended by The Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006, and specified on the agenda item or report relating to each such item respectively.
There were no matters for private consideration.