Agenda and minutes

Cabinet - Wednesday 13th March 2024 6.00 p.m.

Venue: Parkside Suite - Parkside. View directions

Contact: Jess Bayley-Hill 

No. Item


To receive apologies for absence


There were no apologies for absence.


Declarations of Interest

To invite Councillors to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Disclosable Interests they may have in items on the agenda, and to confirm the nature of those interests.


Councillor S. Webb declared an Other Disclosable Interest as a Trustee of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in relation to Agenda Item Number 7, Minute Number 94/23 – Cost of Living Funding Proposal.


Councillor Webb remained in the meeting for consideration of this item and took part in the vote thereon.


There were no further Declarations of Interest.



To confirm the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 21st February 2024 pdf icon PDF 272 KB


The minutes from the Cabinet meeting held on 21st February 2024 were submitted for Members’ consideration.


RESOLVED that the minutes from the Cabinet meeting held on 21st February 2024 be approved as a true and accurate record.


Minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 12th February 2024 pdf icon PDF 284 KB

(a)      To receive and note the minutes

(b)      To consider any recommendations contained within the minutes


The Overview and Scrutiny Board considered a report in respect of the Governance Systems Review at its meeting on 12th February 2024. The recommendations made at this meeting were considered by the Cabinet at its meeting held on 14th February 2024. There are no further outstanding Overview and Scrutiny Board recommendations.


Additional documents:


The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board was present for consideration of this item. It was noted that there were no outstanding recommendations from the meeting of the Board held on 12th February 2024.


There were however, two reports that had been pre-scrutinised at the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting which took place on 11th March 2024. It was agreed that these recommendations would be considered by Cabinet during consideration of the specific reports at agenda items 5 and 6, Minute Numbers 92/23 and 93/23.


RESOLVED that the minutes from the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 12th February 2024 be noted.


Bromsgrove Centres Action Plan Review 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Additional documents:


The Bromsgrove Centres Manager presented the Bromsgrove Centres Action Plan Review 2024/25 for Members’ consideration.


In doing so, the following was highlighted:


·       The Bromsgrove Centres Strategy and Action Plan 2023-2026 was approved by Members in January 2023.

·       The Bromsgrove Centres Action Plan set out Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and success of the plan. These KPIs included budget monitoring, actions and response for certain projects. Outstanding actions from the previous action plan would be carried forward and continued in the 2024/25 municipal year.


Following the presentation of the report Members agreed that this was a positive and encouraging strategy for Bromsgrove Centres and were keen to implement it as soon as possible. Members felt that the events that had been organised were encouraging and had a positive impact on communities across the District and increased footfall within Town Centres across the District.


The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board presented the recommendation agreed by Members at the meeting of the Board on 11th March 2024. The recommendation was as follows:


‘That the action plan be named ‘Bromsgrove District Centres Action Plan’ to emphasise that it is targeting centres in all wards of the District.’


Cabinet considered the recommendation, and it was agreed that this change could be reflected.


Therefore, it was


RESOLVED that the Bromsgrove District Centres Action Plan 2024/25 be approved.



Local Heritage List Strategy pdf icon PDF 561 KB

Additional documents:


The Principal Conservation Officer presented the Local Heritage List Strategy report for the consideration of Cabinet. During the presentation it was highlighted that this report provided an update on progress of the Local Heritage List Strategy adopted in 2016. It was noted that there had been progress on the list, however there had been issues faced particularly in the public engagement element of the strategy.


Members’ attention was drawn to the summary of the Local Heritage List Strategy contained within the report which included information regarding the value of heritage assets to local communities and that the Bromsgrove District Plan (2017) acknowledged the importance of adopting a Local List to formerly identify the locally important heritage assets within the District.


Officers reported that the criteria for inclusion on the Local Heritage List had been identified, and included the following:


1.     Age

2.     Authenticity and Rarity

3.     Architectural interest

4.     Historic interest

5.     Townscape / Villagescape / Landscape interest.


It was stated that in order to be included on the List, candidates needed to satisfy the first criteria stated above and at least one other.


Cabinet was informed that Historic England provided the guidance in respect of Local Heritage Listings. Contained within this guidance was the importance of community engagement within the process.


It was explained that prior to the work on the Lists for Beoley and Dodford, public consultation events were held to gain public feedback on the draft conservation areas for both Beoley and Dodford Conservation Areas. At these events the opportunity was taken to publicise the Local Heritage Lists. It was noted by Officers that the public response had been limited and only a handful of nominations had been received from the public. Officers clarified that this represented around ten responses.


In the original Local Heritage List Strategy, nominations for inclusion on the list were to be considered by an assessment panel who considered the suitability of all the assets nominated against the selection criteria. However, since the original strategy was adopted there had been changes experienced in staffing levels of Conservation Officers working within the Council. Cabinet was informed that the conservation resources had now doubled and had allowed for internal benchmarking of the proposed list to take place. Therefore, the assessment panel’s role had become less relevant compared to the public engagement element which was considered extremely important. A further change since the original strategy was adopted, was the increased use of the Council’s website and social media resources. Officers explained that this extra resource would be utilised to increase public engagement as part of the proposed update to the process. In addition, there would also be opportunities to engage with the local Ward Councillors, Parish Councillors and building owners as part of the new process.


In terms of how the draft lists would be presented, Officers stated that there would be a half page summary of the heritage asset, which included a brief description, the assessment of criteria and a location map of the site.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 93/23


Cost of Living Funding Proposal pdf icon PDF 228 KB


The Head of Community and Housing Services presented the Cost of Living Funding proposal for Cabinet’s consideration. In doing so, Members’ attention was drawn to the following:


·       In 2020-21 the Council allocated £50,000 to support the Community Hubs initiative.  Further allocations were made in 2021-22 and 2022-23 equalling a total budget of £150,000.  It was confirmed that this budget was currently sat in earmarked reserves.

·       In February 2020 the budget was approved by Cabinet as a revenue bid to support the development of the Worcestershire County Council (WCC) Community Hubs in libraries initiative across the District.  

·       Following a new direction of travel by WCC, this budget was never provided to the County Council.  Therefore, the £150,000 funding remained within reserves.

·       Due to the Cost of Living crisis, it was agreed that the needs of local residents needed to be better understood. Therefore, a multi-agency Cost of Living Group was established with partners such as WCC, Bromsgrove District Housing Trust (BDHT) and other partners. Following discussions at this group, two surveys were carried out, in order to better understand the specific needs of local communities. The findings from the survey highlighted that the crisis was affecting a broad range of residents not just those on benefits or a lower income. It also established that financial management advice might ease the pressure on residents but that this could not be the only solution. It was suggested that there needed to more information and support provided to mortgage holders who were struggling with their mortgages, those who had faced food insecurity in the last six months and those residents who had gone without essentials, such as shower or cleaning items including clothes.


In considering the outcomes of the survey, the Cost-of-Living Group determined that there was a need for additional debt advice workers to work across agencies and within local communities for a fourteen month trial period. The focus of the additional workers would be as follows:


·       Specialist housing adviser who delivered housing advice directly.

·       Voluntary sector money adviser to help residents improve their well-being when faced with financial difficulties.

·       Enhancement of the support of the Financial Inclusion Team.


This trial period would also provide the opportunity to inform a lottery bid by the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) to continue this work in the future. It was clarified that if the lottery bid was successful any monies not spent on the trial project would be put back in to reserves and reallocated.


Following the presentation of the report Members discussed the allocation of funds to each new role and queried why the amount outlined in the report equated to only £126,000 rather that the full amount of £150,000. It was confirmed that the amounts contained within the report were per annum and as the trial period took place over fourteen months the outstanding amount of £24,000 would cover the final two months of the roles. There was a suggestion that the outstanding amount could potentially be utilised to support local food  ...  view the full minutes text for item 94/23


Finance and Performance Quarter 3 Monitoring Report 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Additional documents:


The Deputy Chief Executive presented the Finance and Performance Quarter 3 Monitoring Report 2023/24 to Cabinet. During the presentation the following was highlighted Members’ attention:


·       Included in the report was Capital Programme monitoring until the end of December 2023, updated Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) statutory increases in fees and charges for 2024/25, the list of contracts above £200,000 and the list of contracts between £50,000 and £200,000 and the Quarter Three Strategic and Operational Performance Measures.

·       Currently, the Council was forecasting a revenue overspend for 2023/24 in the region of £572,000, before the application of £351,000 from the Utilities Reserve as approved at Quarter One. This application of the reserve would result in a forecast overspend of £221,000 for 2023/24. It was noted that the forecast overspend was predominantly due to the implications of the 2023/24 pay award which had been paid to Officers in December 2023 and had been backdated to 1st April 2023. Other impacts included:


·       Increased costs in temporary and interim staff requirements.

·       The impact of homelessness and temporary accommodation costs.

·       Higher than expected ICT costs in the Business Transformation service area.

·       Costs of refurbishment of the Council’s fleet.


·       As detailed above, the overspend would be offset by a forecast underspend against the Utilities Budget provision due to Utilities inflation running at 70 per cent rather than at 100 per cent as assumed in the 2023/24 Budget. In addition, the overspend would be offset by the following:


·       additional grants receipts and income for Community and Housing.

·       lower than expected ICT purchases and additional grant income in Business Transformation and Organisational Development.


·       In terms of capital spend it was noted that at Quarter Three it was £3.207m (£1.654m at Quarter Two) against the overall 2023/24 capital budget totalling £10.851m.


In presenting the performance measures information, specific areas to note were as follows:


·       Housing Growth – It was reported that 199 new homes had been built, 55 of which were affordable homes. The Local Housing Affordability rate was reportedly higher than the national rate at 11.17 percent versus the national rate of 9.05 per cent.

·       SLM Leisure (Everyone Active) – there had been an increase in membership numbers from the previous years.

·       Staff Turnover Rates – there had been a continued improvement in turnover rates of only 8.8 per cent, which meant that the authority was significantly under the national average rate of staff turnover (15.6 per cent). This would hopefully continue to improve as a result of the implementation of the Workforce Strategy.


Officers reported that this report had been pre-scrutinised at the Finance and Budget Working Group (FBWG) on Friday 8th March 2024. During this meeting there had been a detailed discussion regarding fly-tipping. It had been agreed that the presentation previously given by the Environmental Services Manager in respect of this topic be provided for newer Members. It had also been requested that a piece of work regarding comparison of numbers of fly-tipping incidents in neighbouring, similar sized Councils be carried out. This was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 95/23


To consider any urgent business, details of which have been notified to the Head of Legal, Democratic and Property Services prior to the commencement of the meeting and which the Chairman, by reason of special circumstances, considers to be of so urgent a nature that it cannot wait until the next meeting


There was no Urgent Business on this occasion.