Agenda for Policy & Resources (Recovery) Sub-Committee on Wednesday, 24th June, 2020, 4.00pm

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Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Skype. View directions

Contact: Mark Wall  Head of Democratic Services

Media

Items
No. Item

7.

Procedural Matters

    (a)         Declarations of Substitutes:  Where councillors are unable to attend a meeting, a substitute Member from the same political group may attend, speak and vote in their place for that meeting.

     

    (b)         Declarations of Interest: 

     

    (a)      Disclosable pecuniary interests;

    (b)      Any other interests required to be registered under the local code;

    (c)      Any other general interest as a result of which a decision on the matter might reasonably be regarded as affecting you or a partner more than a majority of other people or businesses in the ward/s affected by the decision.

     

    In each case, you need to declare

    (i)        the item on the agenda the interest relates to;

    (ii)      the nature of the interest; and

    (iii)     whether it is a disclosable pecuniary interest or some other interest.

     

    If unsure, Members should seek advice from the committee lawyer or administrator preferably before the meeting.

     

    (c)          Exclusion of Press and Public:  To consider whether, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, the press and public should be excluded from the meeting when any of the following items are under consideration.

     

    Note:  Any item appearing in Part Two of the agenda states in its heading the category under which the information disclosed in the report is exempt from disclosure and therefore not available to the press and public. A list and description of the exempt categories is available for public inspection at Brighton and Hove Town Halls and on-line in the Constitution at part 7.1.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    (a)  Declarations of Substitutes

     

    7.1            Councillor Bell declared that he was attending the meeting as a substitute for Councillor Miller.

     

    (b)  Declarations of Interests

     

    7.2            There were no declarations of interest.

     

    (c)  Exclusion of the Press and Public

     

    7.3            In accordance with section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972 (“the Act”), the Committee considered whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during an item of business on the grounds that it was likely, in view of the business to be transacted or the nature of proceedings, that if members of the press and public were present during that item, there would be disclosure to them of confidential information (as defined in section 100A(3) of the Act) or exempt information (as defined in section 100(I) of the Act).

     

    7.4            RESOLVED- That the press and public not be excluded from the meeting.

     

8.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 225 KB

    To consider the minutes of the last meeting held on the 29th May 2020 (to follow).

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    8.1            The minutes of the last meeting held on the 29 May 2020 were approved as a correct record of the meeting.

9.

Chair's Communications

10.

Public Involvement pdf icon PDF 91 KB

    To consider the following matters raised by members of the public:

     

    (a)         Written Questions: To receive any questions submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 18 June 2020;

     

    (b)         Deputations: To receive any deputations submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 18 June 2020.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    10.1         The Chair noted that there was one public question from Mr. Kapp regarding the i360 but that he was having difficulty in joining the meeting. She was aware that he could hear the conversation and apologised for the inconvenience of not being able to fully participate.

     

    10.2         She therefore read out his question and gave her response as follows:

    “What is the current indebtedness of the British Airways i360 company, and what steps is the Council taking to recover the money owed?”

     

    10.3         To date the i360 has made £5.9m loan payments to the council but, due to the level of debt interest, the current debt has increased from £36.2m to £38.9m as at 31st March 2020. However, in addition to the loan payments, it should be noted that the council has benefitted from business rates paid by the attraction and annual Section 106 ‘planning gain’ payments. Up until the June 2020 payment, the council has agreed to £4.134m deferred payments pending long term restructuring of the loan. As the report to Policy & Resources (Recovery) Sub-Committee sets out, a wide range of options have been considered and are still under consideration by a Member Working Group. However, independent advice to date has confirmed that supporting the current operation, focussed on income generation, is expected to deliver higher returns than the council exercising its step-in rights and therefore the report recommends that discussions on loan restructuring should recommence once the attraction is able to re-open.

     

    10.4         The Chair thanked Mr. Kapp for his question and confirmed that he would be sent a copy of her response.

     

    Note:     The Chair then adjourned the meeting for a short break at 5.00pm and reconvened the meeting at 5.10pm.

11.

Member Involvement

    To consider the following matters raised by councillors:

     

    (a)      Written Questions: to consider any written questions;

     

    (b)      Letters: to consider any letters;

     

    (c)      Notices of Motion: to consider any Notices of Motion referred from Council or submitted directly to the Committee.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    11.1         The Chair noted that there were no items from Members for consideration.

12.

Covid-19 City Recovery Programme Progress Update pdf icon PDF 284 KB

    Report of the Executive Director for Economy, Environment & Culture.

    Additional documents:

    Decision:

    RESOLVED:

     

    (1)             That the progress update report be noted;

     

    (2)             That the Executive Director Economy, Environment & Culture be granted delegated authority to procure and award a contract for the deployment of city marshalls to support the management of safe space on the seafront and in our retail high streets;

     

    (3)             That officers be requested to bring a report to the September Sub-Committee on the impact of Covid-19 upon disadvantaged communities along with proposals for supporting community recovery, including consideration of the equalities’ implications of the recovery planning process; and

     

    (4)             That further to the work of the council’s internal Ways of Working cell, a report be commissioned, in consultation with staff fora and Trade Unions, detailing options for recognising and rewarding all council staff for their efforts during Covid-19 pandemic.

    Minutes:

    12.1         The Executive Director for Economy, Environment & Culture introduced the report which provided an update on the development and delivery of the city’s Covid-19 recovery programme. He noted that officers were working with partner organisations to plan for the city’s economic recovery as lockdown was eased and he would bring regular updates to the committee.

     

    12.2         The Chair noted that there was an amendment from the Green Group and invited Councillor Mac Cafferty to move the amendment.

     

    12.3         Councillor Mac Cafferty formally moved the amendment and stated that he wished to thank all the officers for their work during the pandemic and that it was felt that their efforts should be recognised in some way. Everyone had been through a huge change in terms of working arrangements and ways of working at break neck speed.

     

    12.4         Councillor Gibson formally seconded the amendment and stated that councillors were aware staff were working extremely hard and gong over and above what was expected. He therefore hoped that the amendment could be supported.

     

    12.5         The Executive Director for Economy, Environment & Culture stated that senior officers were aware of the incredible work being undertaken by staff and were exploring ways of recognising that commitment.

     

    12.6         Councillor Yates stated that he was fully aware of the sterling work being undertaken by council staff and that the need to recognise this had already been raised with the senior management team. He also noted that many staff had learnt new roles and had supported completely different areas of work but were now being asked to return to their original roles because of the easing of lockdown. This was likely to have an impact on those services which had received the support and those people who used the services. It was something that would need further consideration.

     

    12.7         Councillor Gibson echoed the comments and asked what support was being given to homeless people who would have to move out of the current accommodation that had been provided and what action was being taken to manage the safer re-connection aspect for those who did not have a direct connection with the city.

     

    12.8         The Executive Director for Economy, Environment & Culture stated that options were being looked and the use of volunteers to support services and people was being considered. The recent use of specialist marshals for crowd control had worked well and it may be that this needed to be extended and he was happy to report back to the committee.

     

    12.9         Councillor Bell stated that there had been discussions at the Leaders Group in regard to how to recognise staff and he felt that officers had done outstanding work and he was happy to wait for an update to the Leaders Group. He also asked if further information could be provided outside of the meeting in respect of the applications made for discretionary grants by local businesses, an update on the availability of university accommodation in September, an update on the potential events programme and whether the proposed funding for city marshals could be claimed as outlined in the report.

     

    12.10      The Executive Director for Economy, Environment & Culture stated that he would ensure the information was provided to the Members of the Committee. He noted that additional support to local businesses had been given with a view to helping to manage the easing of the lockdown restrictions e.g. additional pavement space was being made available, shop-owners were working with officers to create a safe environment and museums and attractions were preparing to open on the 4 July.

     

    12.11      The Assistant Director Development & Regeneration noted that the Discretionary Grants budget of £3.697m had been over-subscribed with applications amounting to £10.835m and that 305 applications had been approved with payments due to be made this week.

     

    12.12      The Chair noted the comments and put the amendment to the vote which was carried unanimously. The Chair then put the recommendations as amended to the vote which were carried.

     

    12.13      RESOLVED:

     

    (1)      That the progress update report be noted;

     

    (2)      That the Executive Director Economy, Environment & Culture be granted delegated authority to procure and award a contract for the deployment of city marshals to support the management of safe space on the seafront and in our retail high streets;

     

    (3)      That officers be requested to bring a report to the September Sub-Committee on the impact of Covid-19 upon disadvantaged communities along with proposals for supporting community recovery, including consideration of the equalities’ implications of the recovery planning process; and

     

    (4)      That further to the work of the council’s internal Ways of Working cell, a report be commissioned, in consultation with staff fora and Trade Unions, detailing options for recognising and rewarding all council staff for their efforts during Covid-19 pandemic.

13.

Covid-19 Emergency Food Provision - Update pdf icon PDF 434 KB

    Report of the Interim Executive Director for Housing, Neighbourhoods & Communities.

    Additional documents:

    Decision:

    RESOLVED:

     

    (1)             That the exceptional work of the projects in the emergency food network and by Brighton & Hove Food Partnership be noted; and

     

    (2)             That the Urgency Decision taken by the Chief Executive (attached as Appendix 4) to commit funding of £124,500 as outlined in paragraph 3.9 of the report be noted.

    Minutes:

    13.1         The Head of Communities & Equality introduced the report which provided an update on emergency food provision in the city during the Covid-19 health crisis. She noted that the council had been working closely with the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership and had ensured that no-one was going hungry in the city with around 4,000 people being supported. She also noted that it was important to continue to support people during the transition period to enable them to get back into employment and gain an income.

     

    13.2         The Committee welcomed the report and noted that the work had provided a real life-line for people during the pandemic. Local communities had responded, and it was important to learn from those that had been successful and to ensure that level of community support remained going forward into the recovery phase and beyond. There were a number of excellent initiatives that could be supported and taken up in other areas. The Committee recognised that it would be important to consider how volunteers could be sustained and encouraged to continue to support their local communities and that may mean working with local businesses to ensure voluntary work was recognised.

     

    13.3         RESOLVED:

     

    (1)         That the exceptional work of the projects in the emergency food network and by Brighton & Hove Food Partnership be noted; and

     

    (2)         That the Urgency Decision taken by the Chief Executive (attached as Appendix 4) to commit funding of £124,500 as outlined in paragraph 3.9 of the report be noted.

14.

Covid-19: Business Support - Update pdf icon PDF 322 KB

    Report of the Executive Director for Economy, Environment & Culture.

    Additional documents:

    Decision:

    RESOLVED:

     

    (1)             That the work being undertaken to deliver business rates relief and business grants to local businesses be noted;

     

    (2)             That the work being undertaken to deliver discretionary business grants to local businesses be noted; and

     

    (3)             That the city council continue to press the government for any unspent grant money left in the small business grant fund to be reallocated to the discretionary grant fund so it can be targeted at protecting the city’s economy.

    Minutes:

    14.1         The Assistant Director Development & Regeneration introduced the report which provided an update on the programme of work being undertaken by the Economy and Events Cell in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He also noted that the report set out the latest position with regards to the issuing of small business grants and retail, leisure and hospitality grants.

     

    14.2         The Committee welcomed the report and noted that a number of smaller grants in the main had been awarded to self-employed and freelance workers.

     

    14.3         RESOLVED:

     

    (1)         That the work being undertaken to deliver business rates relief and business grants to local businesses be noted;

     

    (2)         That the work being undertaken to deliver discretionary business grants to local businesses be noted; and

     

    (3)         That the city council continue to press the government for any unspent grant money left in the small business grant fund to be reallocated to the discretionary grant fund, so it can be targeted at protecting the city’s economy.

15.

i360: Covid-19 Support pdf icon PDF 156 KB

    Report of the Executive Director for Economy, Environment & Culture.

    Additional documents:

    Decision:

    RESOLVED:

     

    (1)             That it be agreed to defer £150,000 from the December 2019 payment in addition to the £880,304.25 which the Policy & Resources Committee agreed to defer on 5thDecember 2019, on the same terms;

     

    (2)             That it be agreed to defer the loan payments due in June and December 2020, but request that any funds over and above the cashflow necessary to keep the attraction operational are paid to the Council in part payment of the sums owed;

     

    (3)             That the establishment of a pattern of regular meetings and information provision between the i360 management and board and the i360 Member Working Group, as set out at section 3.14 of the report be agreed; and

     

    (4)             That it be noted that officers have not progressed the loan restructure or completed the novation of the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) loan agreed at Policy & Resources Committee in December 2019 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the i360 and that they will progress these once the attraction is able to reopen.

    Minutes:

    15.1         The Assistant Director City Development & Regeneration introduced the report which set out measures necessary to support the continued working cashflow of the i360 during the Covid-19 pandemic. He noted that overall the visitor economy was suffering and that the proposed measures were being made to ensure that the council did not face additional costs associated with the running of the i360.

     

    15.2         The Chair noted that there was a Green amendment and invited Councillor Mac Cafferty to move the amendment.

     

    15.3         Councillor Mac Cafferty formally moved the amendment and stated that it was intended to draw down on the work and discussions of the i360 Working Group and hoped it would be seen as helpful.

     

    15.4         Councillor Gibson formally seconded the amendment and reserved his right to speak.

     

    15.5         The Executive Director for Economy, Environment & Culture noted that should the amendment be carried it would remove the December deferral and set monthly meetings. He suggested that it would be appropriate for the Working Group to set a work programme and that officers could undertake the actions and report to the Working Group as they had previously in 2019.

     

    15.6         Councillor Appich stated that the Working Group had met in early June and accepted that when the Council had approved the loan the underlying figures for what is a weather dependent attraction had been overstated. It had been closed since March due to the pandemic and had suffered a significant loss of income and negative cashflows. However, the latest projections, assuming a reopening with safe distancing and the potential of more people taking a staycation were positive. It was therefore hoped that further support could be given, and the Working Group had agreed to recommend the deferral of remainder of last year’s loan payment and the payments due at the end of June and December to give the i360 breathing space. She also noted that the Working Group were hoping to get more involved with the management team and work with them in developing an action plan for the attraction’s recovery.

     

    15.7         Councillor Bell stated that he felt it was important to give the attraction time to address the situation although he did feel it was more likely that the council would have to act. He also suggested that consideration be given to asking whether the owners would consider agreeing to Directors’ guaranteed being put in place.

     

    15.8         Councillor Yates stated that he did not feel the amendment was helpful and could not support it. He suggested that it would be better for the Working Group to take matters forward and work with the management team for the i360 and then report back to the committee.

     

    15.9         Councillor Gibson referred to the amendment and stated that it would be helpful to see the cash-flow information and that Councillor Druitt as the Green Group’s representative on the Working Group had not felt it was appropriate to waive the December payment. He hoped that the Working Group would receive the information and be in a position to make recommendations to the committee.

     

    15.10      The Assistant Director Development & Regeneration noted that the management team hoped for a stronger summer and were yet to complete their long-term restructure and that the information would come to the Working Group. He also noted that he and finance officers attended the Working Group and it was hoped that a closer working relationship with the management team would be forthcoming.

     

    15.11      The Chair noted the comments and put the amendment to the vote which was lost by 3 votes to 2. She then put the recommendations as listed in the report to the vote which were carried.

     

    15.12      RESOLVED:

     

    (1)      That it be agreed to defer £150,000 from the December 2019 payment in addition to the £880,304.25 which the Policy & Resources Committee agreed to defer on 5thDecember 2019, on the same terms;

     

    (2)      That it be agreed to defer the loan payments due in June and December 2020, but request that any funds over and above the cashflow necessary to keep the attraction operational are paid to the Council in part payment of the sums owed;

     

    (3)      That the establishment of a pattern of regular meetings and information provision between the i360 management and board and the i360 Member Working Group, as set out at section 3.14 of the report be agreed; and

     

    (4)      That it be noted that officers have not progressed the loan restructure or completed the novation of the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) loan agreed at Policy & Resources Committee in December 2019 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the i360 and that they will progress these once the attraction is able to reopen.

     

    Note:     The Chair took the item ahead of Item 10 because of the difficulties experienced by Mr. Kapp in joining the meeting.

16.

Digital Inclusion support during Covid19 and recovery pdf icon PDF 155 KB

    Report of the Executive Director for Economy, Environment & Culture.

    Additional documents:

    Decision:

    RESOLVED: That a contribution of £51,809 to enable Digital Brighton & Hove to continue to provide the digital inclusion support and coordination in the city from July 2020 to the end of March 2021 be agreed.

    Minutes:

    16.1         The Head of Library Service introduced the report which sought agreement to a funding contribution from the council to the Digital Brighton & Hove project to enable it to continue through to March 2021. The project supported vulnerable people in the city, providing devices and digital support to enable them to have access to online services and to be digitally included.

     

    16.2         The Committee welcomed the report and offered its congratulations to all those involved in the project and noted the importance of continuing to address the issue of people being disadvantaged. It was important to breakdown barriers and this was an excellent example of what could be achieved.

     

    16.3         RESOLVED: That a contribution of £51,809 to enable Digital Brighton & Hove to continue to provide the digital inclusion support and coordination in the city from July 2020 to the end of March 2021 be agreed.

 


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