Agenda and minutes

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Apologies were received from Councillors A Alam, M Ayub, M Baldwin, D Barnes, P Bass, S Chhokar, A Collingwood, M Collins, C Etholen, M Flys, R Gaffney, R Gaster, T Green, P Griffin, D Hayday, T Hunter-Watts, A Hussain, Maz Hussain, N Hussain, S James, D Johncock, S Kayani, J MacBean, R Matthews, C Oliver, Sarfaraz Raja, N Rana, J Rush, N Southworth, L Sullivan, N Thomas, P Turner, G Wadhwa, L Walsh, J Ward, D Watson, G Williams and K Wood. Apologies had also been received from the Lord Lieutenant (Lady Howe) and the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire (Mr George Anson).


Minutes pdf icon PDF 807 KB

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Following clarification that motions took effect from the date at which they were passed, it was




That the Minutes of the Council meeting held on 24 November 2021 be approved as a correct record.


Declarations of Interest

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There were no declarations of interest. The Chairman clarified that any payment of, or liability to pay, council tax did not create a disclosable pecuniary interest as defined in the national rules; hence being a council tax payer did not mean that Members would need a dispensation to take part in the business of setting the council tax or precept or local arrangements for council tax support (Agenda item 7).


Chairman's Update

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The Chairman welcomed Members of the Council to the meeting. The Chairman thanked and recognised the hard work of all officers, contractors and Members who were involved in helping to minimise the disruption caused by the recent storms and who had gone above and beyond to help residents and keep vital services running.

The Chairman reported that the Council had been very active in tree planting over the past year and had planted many trees, both as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy and the Buckinghamshire Council Tree Planting initiative. The Chairman looked forward to many more trees being planted over the coming months and years and advised that he would be planting a tree at one of the Council’s civic venues on 11 March to recognise the 70th day of HM The Queen’s 70th Anniversary of service. The Chairman wished HM The Queen a speedy recovery from her recent illness.

The Chairman paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of the Children’s Services team and Cabinet Member for the positive Ofsted report, moving from inadequate to requiring improvement to be good.

Members of the Council were thanked for their gift donations at the last full Council meeting which supported vulnerable and young people, these were very much appreciated by Inspire Bucks. Members of the Council were also thanked for their Easter Egg donations to support the Florence Nightingale Charity.



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There were none.


Chief Financial Officer's Statutory Report pdf icon PDF 228 KB

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The Chairman welcomed Mr R Ambrose, the Council’s Section 151 Officer to the meeting. Mr Ambrose presented his report, highlighting that the Medium Term Financial Plan had been subject to frequent and rigorous challenge and review during its development, including the public meetings of the Budget Scrutiny Inquiry group held in January 2022.


Members were informed that the budget proposals recommended by the Cabinet were robust and sustainable.  Although there continued to be uncertainty beyond 2022/23, a three-year budgeting process had been undertaken, in line with the timeframes of the government’s Spending Review announced in October 2021. This medium-term financial planning process ensured that the annual budget for 2022/23 had been developed within the context of longer-term sustainability. This enabled risks and issues to be considered over a longer time period and to develop prudent estimates in order to understand the extent of the budgeting challenge ahead.  In addition, the multi-year process allowed for the development of longer-term savings proposals, to ensure that the full benefits of becoming a Unitary Council could be realised.


The opening position on General Fund reserves (unallocated) for financial year 2022/23 was forecast to be £47.1m. This balance represents 6.6% of the gross operating budget (excluding the Dedicated Schools Grant). Earmarked reserves were sufficient to cover all expected commitments against them, including approximately £10.4m for the cost of transformation as the new Council further developed its future operating model.


Following a concern raised around the ability of the Council to cope with significant risks to the budget, particularly around school transport for children with Special Educational Needs, Mr Ambrose explained that whilst there were a range of uncertainties including potential covid impact, complexity of needs changing, increased demand on services and lack of clarity on Government funding from 2023/24, for what was known at the present time the budget was robust.




That the report be noted.


2022/23 Revenue Budget and Capital Programme pdf icon PDF 288 KB

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The Chairman invited Councillor M Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, to introduce the report to Members on the proposed 2022/23 revenue budget and capital programme for Buckinghamshire Council.  It was noted that the Council Tax Resolution (Appendix 4) was found in the supplementary agenda pack.


The following key points were highlighted:


-          Councillor Tett thanked all those who had helped shape the budget, this included majority members of the Portfolio Challenge groups, Cabinet Members, the cross-party Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group, the Chief Executive and her Senior Leadership Team as well as the Section 151 Officer.

-          The budget had been prepared in a time of uncertainty, with the effects of Covid still present and the unexpected Omicron variant that appeared last December having further impacted Council services and finances. Areas of uncertainty which would have far reaching budgetary implications included social and economic recovery; the Levelling Up White Paper; uncertainties around social care, both in volume and complexity and the potential instability in the provider market;levels of commuting and the effect on parking income, and future office working styles. There were further uncertainties around inflation, and energy costs.

-          The Council had to respond to these changes and support residents as they occurred. This would involve a significant focus on retraining and new skills to enable people to transition into jobs in new growth sectors of the economy.

-          Part of the uncertainty from Covid meant that just a one-year Revenue budget had been produced for 2021/22. A four-year Capital Budget had, however been produced. This year a return to a three-year Revenue budget was proposed to give greater certainty to services, residents and community and voluntary groups. The overall revenue budget, with each Portfolios element expanded, could be found in Appendix 1, whilst the overall Capital Programme could be seen in Appendix 2.

-          Details of all proposed budget changes could be found in Appendix 3.

-          The Council had only been given a one-year financial settlement by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. This brought significant risk as it was suspected that one of the key reasons for a single year settlement was the prospect of a reform of the financing of local government.

-          Whilst Covid had disrupted some services, the Council had delivered a number of key achievements. Councillor Tett highlighted the new Chilterns Lifestyle Centre, £100m Road and pavement investment programme, launch of the Climate Change Strategy with 550,000 trees being planted, statement of intent to move to electric waste vehicles, new EV charging points, excellent flytipping enforcement, welcoming some of the Afghan refugees and the Helping Hand programme which supported financially challenged residents.

-          Many Councils had seen income streams decrease significantly and incur vast expenditure. Councillor Tett acknowledged a number of other local authorities had been issued a section 114 notice, highlighting the importance of prudent and wise spending of tax payers money.

-          Adults and Children’s Social Care remained the two biggest areas of expenditure, representing approximately 60% of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

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TitleTypeRecorded Vote textResult
Budget Vote: All 6 Recommendations - en bloc Resolution Carried
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  • 8.

    Treasury Management Strategy 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 293 KB

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    Councillor T Butcher, Deputy Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources, Property and Assets introduced Buckinghamshire Council’s Treasury Management Strategy 2022- 23, which was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. It was noted that it was a requirement for each local authority to approve a Treasury Management Strategy by 1 April each year. This strategy had been developed in line with the CIPFA code of practice. 


    Following a competitive tendering process, Link Treasury Services Limited (Link) were appointed as the Council’s treasury advisor with effect from 1 August 2021. This appointment had resulted in the Treasury Management Strategy being presented in an alternative way to that which Members may have been used to in the past. Changes to the Treasury Management Survey included introducing the definition of specified and non-specified investments. Specified investments were those with a high level of credit quality and subject to a maturity limit of one year or had less than a year left to run to maturity if originally they were classified as being nonspecified investments solely due to the maturity period exceeding one year. Nonspecified investments were those with less high credit quality, may be for periods in excess of one year, and/or are more complex instruments which require greater consideration by Members and officers before being authorised for use.


    The Council had also determined that it would only use approved counterparties from the UK and from countries with a minimum sovereign credit rating of AA- from Fitch (or equivalent), previously the minimum sovereign credit rating was AA. The cash limit for AA+, AA and AA- sovereign rated foreign countries is £10m per country. The cash limit for AAA sovereign rated countries is £20m per country. In addition, no more than a total of £40m will be placed with any non-UK countries at any time.


    The Strategy had been discussed at length by the Audit and Governance Committee and recommended on to Council for approval.


    Members raised questions around exchange rate fluctuations; investments in other local authorities; and investments in countries with known political or human rights issues. Councillor Butcher advised that there was no exchange rate exposure for any of the Council’s investments, that any investment in local authorities came with a Government guarantee and there had been no cases of local authorities having not repaid loans. If a section 114 notice had been issued against a local authority any investment opportunity would be referred to the Councils section 151 Officer. Assurance was given that there was no investment exposure to Russia, Hong Kong or Qatar as the Council’s policy is to invest only in AAA rated sovereign rated countries.


    Councillor Butcher moved the recommendation to approve the Treasury Management Strategy.  This was seconded by Councillor Newcombe.




    (1)          That the Treasury Management Strategy 2022-23 be approved.


    (2)          That the operational boundary for external borrowing, the authorised limit for external borrowing, the maturity structure of borrowing and the upper limit for principal sums invested for longer than 365 days be approved.


    Capital and Investment Strategy ¹ pdf icon PDF 207 KB

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    Councillor J Chilver, Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources, Property and Assets introduced the draft Capital and Investment Strategy 2022/23, attached as Appendix 1 to the report.  It was noted that the council was required to approve its capital and investment strategy on an annual basis and that it had been developed in line with the CIPFA and MHCLG guidance.


    The Capital and Investment Strategy provided the framework within which to deliver the Council’s Corporate Plan objectives through the effective investment of its limited capital resources.  As well as the Councils immediate statutory responsibilities, the strategy also reflected the important role that it had to play in the regeneration and growth, affordable housing and climate change agendas, especially in the context of a post-Covid recovery and the significant housing growth in the area.

    Members raised questions around demographic change and growth assumptions; repurposing of the Council’s property estate; consistency in using wording from the Council’s Climate Change and Air Quality Strategy across all Council strategies; Community Infrastructure Levy funds from developments in the former Wycombe district area; and the Council’s stance on providing social housing.

    Councillor Chilver advised that demographic change and housing growth figures were based on the latest data supplied to the Council and was used to calculate school places, amongst other areas. This data needed to be included as much of the funding received for housing growth was covered by the Government Housing Infrastructure fund. Whilst the overall total may not be as predicted, there were significant demographic changes in areas such as the older population requiring additional support for care and in areas such as the disabled facilities grant.

    A report on the Council’s Estates Strategy would be presented to Cabinet in the Summer, this would set out the Council’s plans on property rationalisation. The pace of delivery was constrained as there was a need to collect data and evidence on office usage post-covid and pilot projects were due to be rolled out in certain office spaces as part of the Work Smart Strategy. The Estates Strategy would also integrate with the Town Centre Regeneration Strategies. Councillor Chilver advised that the Council had successfully let vacant office space at Easton Street, High Wycombe, 66 High Street, Aylesbury, KGVH House, Amersham and Queen Victoria Road, High Wycombe offices.

    Councillor Chilver reported that reference was made within the Strategy to the Climate Change and Air Quality Strategy, with the strategy detailing how mitigations would be delivered including, building rationalisation, energy efficiencies in buildings, using electric vehicles, solar car ports and the tree planting initiative.

    CIL contributions in the former Wycombe district area were included in the capital budget as a source of income, although unlike S106 agreements these were not guaranteed and the Council had to bid for it. Town and Parish Councils also received an element of CIL and this was included within the strategy.

    In relation to affordable housing, Councillor Chilver advised that the Council was working on achieving the right balance of providing affordable properties and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


    Report on Public Sector Audit Appointment (PSAA) pdf icon PDF 244 KB

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    Council received a report, similar to one that had been considered by the Audit and Governance Committee on 25 January 2022, that set out proposals for appointing the external auditor to the Council for the accounts for the five-year period from 2023/24.  The current auditor, Grant Thornton, had been appointed as external auditors of the new unitary authority by Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) until the end of 2022/23. The auditor appointed at the end of the procurement process would undertake the statutory audit of accounts and Value for Money assessment of the Council in each financial year, in accordance with all relevant codes of practice and guidance.  The appointed auditor would also be responsible for investigating questions raised by electors and had powers and responsibilities in relation to Public Interest Reports and statutory recommendations.


    The Council had a choice of the way that it appointed its external auditors, via the following options:

    (i)             Option 1: National Auditor Appointment Scheme - opt into the arrangements offered by PSAA – benefits, that were explained at Section 3 of the report.

    (ii)           Option 2: Own procurement arrangement following the procedures in the Act – Challenges, that were detailed in Section 4 of the report.

    (iii)         Option 3: To act jointly with other authorities to procure an auditor following the procedures in the Act – the challenges were the same as for Option 2, detailed in Section 4 of the report.


    Following consideration of the report by the Audit and Governance Committee, their recommendation to full Council was that Option 1 should be approved.


    Councillor R Newcombe, Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee, moved the recommendation to approve the appointment of the external auditors (Option 1).  This was seconded by Councillor D Goss.




    That the Council opt into the arrangements offered by Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) for the appointment of External Auditors from April 2023 (Option 1), as endorsed by the Audit and Governance Committee on 25 January 2022.


    New Statement of Licensing Policy under the Gambling Act 2005 pdf icon PDF 271 KB

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    Council received a report, similar to one considered by the Licensing Committee on 2 February 2022.  In accordance with the Gambling Act 2005 the Buckinghamshire Council, in its role as Licensing Authority, was responsible for regulating certain premises-based gambling activities within the Council’s area. The Council carried out this function by granting premises licence and permits and receiving notices and registrations for gambling-based activities.  The Council was also responsible for the associated enforcement activity to ensure compliance under the Act. The Council’s full functions under the Act were shown in Section 8 of the draft Policy, Appendix 1 to the Council report.


    The predominant gambling activities regulated by Buckinghamshire Council related to betting shops, adult gaming centres, bingo premises, gaming and gaming machines and registering small society lotteries.  The Council shared responsibility for regulating gambling activities with the Gambling Commission.  The Gambling Commission are the national regulator for gambling and were responsible for issuing operator licences and personal licences (where required), regulating online gambling and the National Lottery, and issuing guidance to local licensing authorities.


    Under section 349 of the Act, the Council was required to prepare and publish a Statement of Licensing Policy, (‘Policy’), which set out its approach to the consideration and determination of applications made under the Act and any subsequent necessary compliance and enforcement action.  As with the Licensing Act 2003, the way the Council performed it duties under the Act was guided by prescribed objectives. For the purposes of regulating gambling activities these objectives were:

    (i)             preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder, or being used to support crime.

    (ii)           ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way.

    (iii)         protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling


    The Council’s licensing service was currently operating under separate legacy policies and fees, reflecting the four former District Council areas.  Under the terms of the transitional legislation, Buckinghamshire Council had two years to prepare and publish a new single policy under the Act and align service provision. The deadline for publication and implementation of the new Policy was no later than 1 April 2022.  The new Policy must be published at least four weeks before it is effective, the deadline for publication of the Policy was therefore 4 March 2022.


    Following a five-week period of public consultation, a new Policy had been drafted and approved by the Licensing Committee with a recommendation that it now be adopted by the Council.


    Councillor N Naylor, Cabinet Member for Housing, Homelessness and Regulatory Services, moved the recommendation that the Statement of Licensing Policy for Buckinghamshire Council under the Gambling Act 2005, be approved and adopted.  This was seconded by Councillor H Wallace, Chairman of the Licensing Committee.




    That the Statement of Licensing Policy for Buckinghamshire Council under the Gambling Act 2005, be APPROVED and ADOPTED, to take effect from 1 April 2022.  


    Report for information - Key Decisions Report pdf icon PDF 169 KB

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    Full Council received for information a list of decisions taken by Cabinet Members since the last Council meeting.


    Date of Next Meeting

    Wednesday 27 April, 2022, at 4pm

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    4pm, Wednesday 27 April 2022.



    ¹ Please note that the following correction was made to the Capital and Investment Strategy subsequent to the Council meeting. Paragraph 2.2.1 in the strategy (page 272 of the agenda) is replaced with the following paragraph:


    “The population of Buckinghamshire has grown on average by 0.7% each year for the last two decades. In real terms, there were 68,740 more people in the county in 2020 than there were at the turn of the millennium. Population in the county is expected to continue to grow for the next two decades and the Council needs to take account of these changes in planning its future service provision. The Council in partnership with other agencies, the Local Enterprise Partnership, in particular, has responsibility for facilitating the infrastructure to promote economic growth. The latest available ONS data predicts that the population will rise from 545,925 in 2020 to 567,303 by 2033 (Source: ONS 2018 MYE Sub National Population Projections). Analysis of current planning permissions and local plan sites indicate housing growth of up to 32,000 additional dwellings in Buckinghamshire between 2020 to 2033 which, if delivered to expected timeframes, would lead to population increases well beyond those currently predicted by the ONS. This level of development not only has implications for new infrastructure but also for the wear and tear on existing infrastructure.”