IRVINE, 10 February 2004 - At a Meeting of North Ayrshire Council at 2.00 p.m.
Drew Duncan, Jane Gorman, Thomas Barr, John Bell, Jacqueline Browne, Ian Clarkson, Margie Currie, Stewart Dewar, Jean Highgate, Margaret McDougall, Elizabeth McLardy, Peter McNamara, Elisabethe Marshall, John Moffat, David Munn, Margaret Munn, Alan Munro, David O'Neill, Donald Reid, Ian Richardson, Samuel Taylor, Nan Wallace and Richard Wilkinson.
T. Orr, Corporate Director (Property Services); J. Travers, Corporate Director (Educational Services); B. Docherty, Corporate Director (Social Services); A. Herbert, Assistant Chief Executive (Finance); B. MacDonald, Assistant Chief Executive (Development and Promotion); I.T. Mackay, Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Protective); J.M. Macfarlane, Assistant Chief Executive (Personnel); G. Lawson, Head of Corporate and Democratic Support, A. Wattie, Communications Officer and S. Bale, Corporate and Democratic Support Officer (Chief Executive's).
Provost Duncan in the Chair.
Apologies for Absence
Jack Carson, Gordon Clarkson, Alan Hill and John Reid.
1. Councillors Alan Hill and John Reid
The Provost advised the Council that Councillor Alan Hill was in hospital and that Councillor John Reid was now home from hospital. On behalf of the Council he expressed his best wishes to them both for a speedy recovery.
The Minutes of the Meeting of the Council held on 20 January 2004 were confirmed.
3. Budget for 2004/05 and beyond
Submitted (a) reports by the Assistant Chief Executive (Finance) on (i) the Housing Revenue Account budget and the rent levels for 2004/05; (ii) the Revenue Estimates and the Council Tax levels for 2004/05 and beyond; (iii) the revised Capital Programme for 2004/05 and the commitments beyond 2004/05; (iv) the Treasury Management Strategy for 2004/05 and the prudential indicators as required by the Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities;
and (b) report, being the Minutes of the Special Meeting of the Corporate Policy Committee held on 10 February 2004.
The Leader of the Council thanked the Officers involved in drawing up the budget and the Elected Members, particularly the new Members, for their participation in the budget seminars. Last year the Council had approved in principle a maximum Council Tax increase of £50 for Band D equivalent for 2005/06, subject to the preparation of detailed estimates as part of the ongoing budget process. The proposed spending requirements identified in the report on the Revenue Estimates and Council Tax levels address the directives from the Scottish Executive, meet local and national priorities and satisfy the Council's budget and service provision strategy. The budget is intended to build on the stability of the current financial position of the Council, to continue to provide quality services and to endeavour to improve these services. The Council Tax levels proposed are below the Scottish average.
The Housing Revenue account budget for 2004/05 has been prepared to reflect the expenditure and income requirements to meet the Council's continuing investment in housing and the rent levels required to finance this.
The Capital Programme for 2004/05 and beyond will result in improvements to all services of the Council including the provision of new primary schools, the upgrading of town centres and investment in the new technology. The programme has also take into account the need to identify sustainability as outlined in the Prudential Code.
Councillor O'Neill, seconded by Councillor McDougall, moved to approve the recommendations contained within the reports on (i) the Housing Revenue Account budget and the Rent Levels for 2004/05; (ii) the Revenue Estimates and the Council Tax levels for 2004/05 and beyond; (iii) the revised Capital Programme for 2004/05 and the commitment beyond 2005/05; and (iv) the Treasury Management Strategy for 2004/05 and the Prudential Indicators.
As an amendment, Councillor Wilkinson, seconded by Councillor Marshall, moved that (a) the Council approve the recommendations on (i) the Housing Revenue Account and Rent Levels for 2004/05; (ii) the General Services Capital Programme 2004/05 and beyond; (iii) the Treasury Management Strategy 2004/05 and Prudential Indicators; and (b) in relation to the recommendations on the General Services Revenue Estimates and Council Tax Levels 2004/05 and beyond, the Council maintain the current levels of Council Tax for the next financial year 2004/05.
On a division there voted for the amendment 4 and for the motion 17, and the motion was declared carried.
Accordingly, Councillor O'Neill, seconded by Councillor McNamara, moved the Minutes of the Special Meeting of the Corporate Policy Committee held on 10 February 2004 and the Council agreed (a) to approve (i) the Housing Revenue Account budget for 2004/05; (ii) the rent increase of £1.83 per week; (ii) the garage and lock up site increases of £3.86 and £7.72 per annum; (iv) the expenditure needs for 2004/05 as set out in the report on the Revenue Estimates; (v) the undernoted Council Tax bandings required to finance this expenditure;
BandValuation Recommended Council Tax 2004/05
A Under £26,999 £ 683.33
B £27,000 - £34,999 £ 797.22
C £35,000 - £44,999 £ 911.11
D £45,000 - £57,999 £1,025.00
E £58,000 - £79,999 £1,252.78
F £80,000 - £105,999 £1,480.56
G £106,000 - £211,999 £1,708.33
H Over £212,000 £2,050.00
(vi) in principle, a Council Tax level limited to not more than £50 of an increase for Band D equivalent for 2005/06; (vii) the revised Capital Programme for 2004/05; (viii) the commitments in the Capital Programme beyond 2004/05; (ix) the Treasury Management Strategy for 2004/05; and (x) the Prudential Indicators and limits.
4. Leader's Report
The Leader of the Council reported on the following items:-
Additional funding is to be made available from the UK Treasury and the Scottish Executive amounting to £47m for Local Authorities in Scotland. Local Authorities will have to identify proposals for "Spend to Save".
The nursery nurses continuing dispute. The Council has tabled an offer of 9.6% which is consistent with settlements reached in a number of other Councils. It is considered that the Council's proposals address the issues which Unison has raised at a national level. The Convener of the Scottish Joint Council has written to Unison nationally seeking further discussions.
The Standing Sub Committee of the Corporate Policy Committee has recommended the establishment of a post of Grants Officer who will assist community groups in bringing in external funding to North Ayrshire.
The Recruitment Sub Committee for the post of Chief Executive will comprise a panel of 11 Members, chaired by the Leader of the Council and comprising Provost Duncan, Councillors John Reid, McDougall, McNamara, David Munn, Taylor, Munro, Hill, Wilkinson and McLardy. It is intended to make an appointment to the post prior to the summer recess.
5. Committee Chairs' Reports
Property Services Committee
The Chair of the Property Services Committee reported on the following items:-
The launch of the Kerbside Collection Scheme funded from the Strategic Waste Fund which will be paid in annual instalments over financial years 2003/04 to 2019/20 and will result in a significant investment in recycling, as well as 25 new posts being created.
The Scottish Executive have allocated £1.5m to the Council over the period 2004/05 and 2005/06 for private sector housing grants. The Council's bid is currently being prepared and details will be submitted to the next meeting of the Committee.
A skateboard facility will be provided at Mackerston Pond, Largs.
The rules for set aside of capital receipts have been abolished and capital receipts from house sales may be used for investments in housing stock.
The new Scottish Standard for Housing is being introduced and all Councils will be required to submit their delivery plans to the Scottish Executive.
Licensing Sub Committee of Corporate Services Committee
The Chair of the Licensing Sub Committee reported on the following item:-
A review of taxi fares which will be proceeding shortly.
Planning Sub Committee of Corporate Services Committee
The Chair of the Planning Sub Committee reported on the following item:-
Progress has been made on development of the site at Fleming Terrace, Irvine, which has been vacant for some time, with the granting of planning permission for a housing development.
Corporate Services Committee
The Chair of the Corporate Services Committee reported on the following items:-
A presentation made by Bill Burns, Clydeport on the Hunterston Transhipment Project, showing the progress which has been made over the past year and if successful will result in the creation of a large number of new jobs.
The agreement to purchase Elliott House, Irvine to provide for the immediate accommodation requirements of Social Services and which will result in a financial saving in the long term.
6. Committee Minutes
Submitted the annexed reports of Committees, being the Minutes of the Meetings held on the undernoted dated which were approved as follows:-
Property Services Committee: 21 January 2004
Moved by Councillor Taylor and seconded by Councillor Bell (Pages 1-5).
On a point of information Councillor Wilkinson asked whether a separate planning application would be required regarding the skateboard facility to be provided at Mackerston Pond, Largs. The Chair of the Property Services Committee confirmed that a separate planning application will be required and this will include provision for the skateboarding equipment to be removed within 24 hours, if necessary.
Licensing Sub Committee of Corporate Services Committee: 26 January 2004
Moved by Councillor David Munn and seconded by Councillor Moffat (Pages 6-15).
Corporate Services Committee: 27 January 2004
Councillor Bell declared an interest in item 7, Support for Radio City Association on page 18 of the Minutes.
Moved by Councillor David Munn and seconded by Councillor Barr (Pages 16-24).
Planning Sub Committee of Corporate Services Committee: 2 February 2004
Moved by Councillor David Munn and seconded by Councillor Barr (Pages 25-34).
Corporate Policy Committee: 3 February 2004
Moved by Councillor O'Neill and seconded by Councillor McDougall (Pages 35-64).
In terms of Standing Order No. 12, submitted a question by Councillor Marshall in the following terms:-
"Further to the Press Release issued by the Council in July 2003 and the response to my question to the Leader on 15 September 2003, would the Leader of the Council outline the progress to date in "brokering an agreement" between the Council, Network Rail and CTB (the preferred developers?) in relation to the redevelopment of Largs Railway Station which was demolished by a runaway train in 1995 and whose rebuild was promised the next year by Mr. Brian Wilson MP?"
The Leader of the Council responded in the following terms:-
"The Council's involvement at Largs Station is based on trying to mediate between the parties to bring forward some form of resolution. As had been reported in the local press last year, an impasse appeared to have been in place between the two parties. North Ayrshire Council has no statutory obligation to be involved with the parties and, other than staff time, no Council expenditure is involved at Largs Station. Therefore, in a formal sense, other than in pursuit of its economic development powers, the Council has no locus to act at Largs Station.
However, Council officials have been involved with Network Rail and CTB. They have assisted the parties by meeting with them independently and by proposing a framework agreement, similar to those employed elsewhere between Network Rail and developers. This appears to have moved matters forward. It has to be said, however, that matters are not moving as quickly as we would have liked or could have anticipated. Council officials are in regular contact with the parties to continue to try to move forward. It is hoped that a further meeting will be arranged jointly by both parties."
8. Friendship Ambassador, North Ayrshire Council
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Development and Promotion) on a proposal to nominate Ms. Ritsuko Okura, Mayor of Hiratsuka City, as Friendship Ambassador for North Ayrshire Council.
The Council agreed to approve the nomination of Ms. Ritsuko Okura, Mayor of Hiratsuka City, as Friendship Ambassador for North Ayrshire Council.