Minutes of Meeting of the Resources Committee held in the Council Chamber, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Wednesday 16 February, 2005 at 10.30 a.m.
Mr J N Matheson, Mr D Mackay, Mr D C M Flear, Mr W N Fernie, Mr S Mackay, Mrs A L Magee, Mr A Rhind, Mr J Connell, Mrs C Wilson, Mr D W Briggs, Mr M Macmillan, Mrs I McCallum, Mr I MacDonald, Mrs C M Cumming, Mr J Ford, Mr W J Smith, Mrs J Home, Mrs K G Matheson, Mrs H Carmichael, Mrs L MacDonald, Mr C King, Mr B J Murphy, Mr A R McFarlane Slack, Dr M E M Foxley
Non-Members also Present:
Mr J H Green, Mr G M Smith, Mr W A Mowat, Mr W J Ross, Mr A Anderson, Mrs V MacIver, Mrs M E Paterson, Mr J Laing, Mr A Milne, Mrs O J Macdonald, Mr N M Clark
Officials in attendance:
Mr A D McCourt, Chief Executive
Mr A B Dodds, Director of Corporate Services
Mr A Geddes, Director of Finance
Dr A W Coutts, Director of Property and Architectural Services
Mrs M McLauchlan, Director of Transport, Environmental & Community Services
Mrs C McDiarmid, Head of Policy, Chief Executive’s Service
Mr J Batchelor, Head of Personnel, Corporate Services
Mr K McCorquodale, Policy Officer, Chief Executive’s Service
Mr N Gillies, Head of Roads and Community Works
Mrs C King, Health Improvement and Community Safety Officer
Mrs M Straube, Chief Registrar, Corporate Services
Mr I Murray, Head of Community Learning and Leisure, Educ. Culture & Sport
Mr D Robertson, Head of Accounting, Finance Service
Mr B Williams, Head of Corporate Finance, Finance Service
Mr D Lamont, Head of Exchequer, Finance Service
Mr S Young, Head of Contracts, Property and Architectural Services
Mr J Clarke, Head of Property and Maintenance, Property & Architectural Services
Mr J Grieve, Information Systems Client Manager, Chief Executive’s Service
Mr D MacDonald, Principal Administrator, Corporate Services
Mr A MacInnes, Administrative Assistant, Corporate Services
An asterisk in the margin denotes a recommendation to the Council. All decisions with no marking in the margin are delegated to the Committee
1. Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mrs E MacRae, Mr T Jackson (OCB), Mrs R Finlayson (OCB), Mr A Torrance, Dr D Alston, Mr H Fraser (OCB) and Mr A Gordon.
2. Revenue Monitoring Statements for Central Services
There had been circulated Reports by the Chief Executive, Director of Corporate Services, Director of Finance and Director of Property and Architectural Services which provided the Revenue Monitoring Statements for Central Services for the period to 31 December, 2004:-
i. Chief Executive’s Service – Report No res-01-05
ii. Corporate Services – Report No res-02-05
iii. Finance Service – Report No res-03-05
iv. Property and Architectural Services – Report No res-04-05
The Committee NOTED the terms of the reports as circulated and AGREED the action being taken to address any overspends.
3. Corporate Revenue Monitoring Report
There had been circulated Report No res-05-05 dated 8 February, 2005 by the Director of Finance which provided the Corporate Revenue Monitoring position for the period to 31 December, 2004 and the projected year end position.
For the General Fund, the report showed a total annual budget of £415.221m; estimated year end position of £413.367m and consequent underspend of £1.854m. The report also analysed the General Fund position by staff costs, other costs, grant income and other income.
4. Corporate Capital Monitoring Statement – General Fund and HRA
Capital Programme to 31 December, 2004
There had been circulated Report No res-06-05
dated 31 January, 2005 by the Director of Finance which provided an overview of the Corporate Capital Monitoring Statement for the period to 31 December, 2004 for the General Fund and the Housing Revenue Account Programme.
The Committee NOTED the financial position of the General Fund and HRA Capital Programme as at 31 December, 2004.
The Committee NOTED:
i. the predicted outturn position and that the predicted underspend on Loan
Charges had provided a positive overall position. However estimated
expenditure on 11/12 January, 2005 Storm Damage was not included in
the figures at this stage; and
ii. the actions proposed by Services to bring overspend positions into line by
the year end but that in respect of the Non HRA it was likely that the
predicted overspend would remain at the end of March, 2005.
5. Treasury Management – Summary of Transactions for November
and December, 2004
There had been circulated Report No res-07-05 dated 13 January, 2005 by the Director of Finance which provided details of the Treasury Management Transactions undertaken for November and December, 2004 which were submitted in compliance with CIPFA’s Code of Practice on Treasury Management and the Council’s approved Financial Regulations.
The Committee NOTED the terms of the report.
6. Treasury Management Strategy Statement – 2005/06
There had been circulated Report No res-08-05 dated 25 January, 2005 by the Director of Finance relating to a requirement for the Council to approve an annual Treasury Management Strategy Statement for the forthcoming financial year, in compliance with the Code of Practice on Treasury Management in Local Authorities.
In addition, the Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities became effective from 1 April, 2004. The report explained the implications of this Code for the Council’s treasury management activities during the forthcoming year and included details of prudential indicators for treasury management introduced by the Code. These indicators were also submitted for approval.
Following consideration, the Committee APPROVED:
i. the annual Treasury Management Strategy Statement for the forthcoming
financial year, in compliance with the Code of Practice on Treasury
Management in Local Authorities.
ii. the prudential indicators for treasury management introduced by the
Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities.
7. Property and Architectural Services Capital Works Budget Including
Strategic Asset Management and DDA Allocation Works 2004/05
There had been circulated Report No res-09-05
dated 8 February, 2005 by the Director of Property and Architectural Services which set out the current position with regard to the component parts of the 2004/05 Property and Architectural Services Capital Works Budget including Strategic Asset Management and DDA Projects.
In discussion the following points were raised:
i. In order not to commit the Council to a spend which did not have an
approved budget, concern was expressed that this would delay awarding
certain contracts. In relation to concerns expressed by Members on delays
in awarding contracts the Chief Executive undertook to look at the
performance of the relevant Service in this respect.
ii. Given the high level of construction activity in Highland at present, there
was difficulty in attracting contractors to tender for work, which meant
paying more for contracts than would normally be the case and delays in
iii. It was advised that the majority of projects were delivered on time and on
Thereafter, the Committee NOTED the current position with regards to component parts of the 2004/05 Property and Architectural Services Capital programme and AGREED to:
i. Instruct the Director of Property & Architectural Services to proceed to
conclusion all works approved and to seek to minimise the anticipated
underspend within this financial year.
ii. Approve continued consultation with local Disability Access Panels as a
means of ensuring that proposed alterations to public-caller buildings met
the actual needs of disabled people.
iii. Delay the award of the following contracts (which had not been legally
a) Wick Service Point
b) Alness Service Point
c) Community Ed Office, Nairn
d) Wick Criminal Justice Office
e) Ormlie Centre, Thurso
f) Com. Service Orders Office, Fort William
g) Offender Services Office, Fort William
h) Averon Social Club, Alness
i) Dingwall Leisure Centre
j) Dingwall Registrars Office
k) Gairloch Leisure Centre
l) Gairloch Library
m) Lochbroom Leisure Centre
n) Tain Library
o) Broadford Library
p) Broadford Social Work Office
q) District Court, Inverness, North Tower, The Castle
r) Inverness Museum, Phase 1
s) Inverness Library, Farraline Park
t) Fort William Library
u) Tain Library
v) Dingwall Leisure Centre, Phase 1
iv Submit a more detailed report to the next Resources
Committee to allow Members to identify those projects that they would wish to see completed within next year’s approved budget.
8. Property Revenue Maintenance Budget 2004/05
There had been circulated Report No res-10-05
dated 8 February, 2005 by the Director of Property and Architectural Services which set out the current position with regard to the component parts of the 2004/05 Property Revenue Maintenance Budget.
The Committee NOTED the current position with regards to component parts of the 2004/05 Property Revenue Maintenance Budget.
9. Storm Damage
There had been circulated Report No res-11-05 dated 7 February, 2005 by the Director of Finance which assessed the likely cost implications of storm damage suffered on 11/12 January, 2005 and the likelihood of making a claim under the Bellwin Scheme.
In discussion the following points were raised:
- It was noted that an assessment of the full costs of storm damage was continuing to be undertaken.
- Extreme weather conditions were likely to become much more of a regular occurrence and Members were of the view that the Scottish Executive should be providing assistance to local authorities for such emergencies.
- It was noted that the Scottish Parliament was to debate the financial consequences of the storm damage on 11/12 January and it was suggested that the Council along with Western Isles Council should lobby parliament for a review of the Bellwin Scheme which was extremely difficult to make a claim against because of the qualifying conditions.
Thereafter, the Committee NOTED that:-
i. the current estimate of costs as a result of the storm damage on the
11/12 January, 2005 amounted to £5.031m;
ii. eligible costs under the Belwin Scheme were unlikely to reach the minimum
threshold to qualify for support;
iii. a further report would be brought to the Budget Working Group to
consider the funding required once the final costs of the works had been
clarified, but in the meantime emergency works were being undertaken in
accordance with powers delegated to the Chief Executive;
iv. following liaison with Western Isles Council and local MSPs, representations
should be made to the Scottish Executive seeking a review of the Bellwin
v. a report on the Scottish Executive consultation paper on climate change
was to be submitted to the Sustainable Development Select Committee in
March, 2005; and
vi. the Director of Transport, Environmental & Community Services would
check with Area Service Managers that all significant repair items from each
Area were included in the total costs of the storm damage.
10. Implications of Legislative Proposals for Ban on Smoking in
Enclosed Public Places
There had been circulated Report No res-12-05 by the Head of Policy relating to the Scottish Executive public consultation on smoking in enclosed public places which ended on the 30th of September 2004. The Highland Council supported the introduction of a ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces and following the consultation, Ministers announced that a ban would be introduced in spring 2006.
It was advised that the legislative proposals had been presented to Parliament in the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill for which written submissions had been requested by 11 February 2005. The Council’s submission was also circulated. Members were informed that due to the timescale, it had not been possible to bring this to a Committee for discussion before this date, but there would be other opportunities for Members to influence the Bill as it progressed. This report outlined the issues for the Council which were likely to arise from the proposed implementation of the smoking ban.
The Committee NOTED the indicative cost implications of the introduction of the impending ban on smoking in enclosed public places, that the Committee would be informed of any monies which might be received from the Scottish Executive in support of enforcement and other costs and that the Council would be able to contribute to the Bill process through future stages of the Bill’s consideration.
11. The Audit of Best Value and Community Planning
There had been circulated Report No res-13-05 dated 2 February, 2005 by the Chief Executive which set out the timetable for the Council’s Audit of Best Value and Community Planning, to be undertaken by Audit Scotland. The report advised of what had been done to date in order to prepare for the first audit since the new legislation came into effect and identified improvement actions for this year. A key message was that the Best Value process was continuous, with the audit seen not just as a snapshot of performance but as part of the on-going drive to improve services.
Following consideration, the Committee:
i. NOTED that the Council’s Audit of Best Value and Community Planning
would take place from April to October 2005.
ii. NOTED the three types of improvement action to pursue this year, i.e.
consolidating and making better sense of performance management
framework; paying particular attention to areas of weakness identified; and
making sure Members were closely involved in the performance of the
iii. AGREED that additional arrangements were needed for Member briefing
and debate in advance of the audit.
12. New Funding Arrangements for Community Safety
There had been circulated Report No res-14-05
by the Head of Policy relating to Community Safety funding which was provided through the Scottish Executive Community Safety Partnership Award programme. The report advised Members of the changes to the Award Programme and outlined the application to the Scottish Executive, approved by the Wellbeing Alliance Community Safety Steering Group.
Members commented that more action was required at local level to tackle Anti-social behaviour, such as providing more activities for young people to take them of the streets.
In reply to other comments from Members, it was explained that:
the development of Home Safety Risk Assessments, led by Highland and Islands Fire Brigade in partnership with community care providers would significantly aid the identification of vulnerable households at risk of accidents within the home. Measures would be required to be put in place to address the actions identified by the assessments;
- the Council did try to be proactive with young people to tackle their problems. Further, mobile reporting equipment for Community Wardens should also help address anti social behaviour at local level
- the Health Improvement and Community Safety Officer would welcome the opportunity to meet local groups who had an interest in community safety in Highland
- each Highland Council Area had a Community Safety Local Action Team, which Members were encouraged to join
- a bid had been made to the Budget Working Group to continue funding of Social Inclusion Partnership (SIP) projects in Lochaber. The SIP funding had now ended and these projects required funding to continue.
Thereafter, the Committee AGREED:
i. the application submitted to the Scottish Executive Community Safety
Partnership Award Programme 2005 – 2008;
ii. to the spending plan outlined in paragraph 5.1 of the report; and
iii. that points raised by Members at the meeting relating to community safety
issues should be relayed to The Highland Wellbeing Alliance Community
13. Public Space CCTV
There had been circulated Report No res-15-05
dated 10 February, 2005 by the Chief Executive which highlighted potential funding that was available from Hi Trans and other parties to provide some additional public space CCTV cameras. Whilst accepting capital funding to extend public space CCTV coverage there were medium to longer term implications for the Council. Members were asked to consider the implications of increasing the Council’s public space CCTV services from the range of opportunities that had recently arisen.
Following consideration, the Committee AGREED:
i. to accept into the Council’s public space CCTV network a three camera
extension to an Aird, Fort William, a two camera extension to Station Road,
Tain and a single camera at Strother’s Lane, Inverness to be developed
and provided by external funding.
ii. subject to approval of the Community Safety 2005 – 2008 Programme, to
support for inclusion into the Council’s public space CCTV network new
public space CCTV projects, fully funded by other parties as noted in
paragraph 4 of the report.
14. Rural Service Priority Areas (RSPAs)
Members were advised that previously at Resources Committee reports had been provided on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) and the way it was being linked to resource allocation (notably for the new Community Regeneration Fund which replaced SIP funding). Representations had been made by the Council to the Executive about the limitations of using SIMD for identifying rural deprivation and the inappropriateness of relying on SIMD to allocate funding.
The Scottish Executive had responded by issuing a press release on 27th January 2005 which identified 20 Rural Service Priority Areas in Scotland which were to be the focus of targeted action to improve services. Three of the 20 areas were within Highland, namely the Duirnish peninsula in Skye; Melvich in North Sutherland; and Helmsdale and Kinbrace in East Sutherland. The announcement did not include any new resources or any indication of which services were to be improved. It did say that community planning partnerships were to be contacted by the Scottish Executive's Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) to take the matter further and that consultation would be carried out in the communities affected. No further information was currently available but civil servants had been invited to explain their methodology and to discuss their intentions for Highland initially at an officers meeting in mid March 2005.
The Committee NOTED the position and that further reports would be made to this Committee on RSPAs.
15. Consultation on the Registration Services (Scotland) Bill
There had been circulated Report No res-16-05 dated 7 February, 2005 by the Director of Corporate Services which outlined the proposed changes to legislation contained in the Registration Services (Scotland) Bill and provided a suggested response to the Registrar General on the proposals.
In discussion the following points were raised:
- Representations should be made to the Registrar General regarding the pricing strategy for registration services;
- It was essential that the integrity of the registration service was not diminished as a result of using e-registration; and
- The need for a joined-up approach to ancestry research in the Highlands.
Thereafter the Committee:
i. APPROVED the response as detailed in the report relating to proposed
changes to legislation contained in the Registration Services (Scotland) Bill;
ii. NOTED that representations would be made to the Registrar General
regarding the pricing strategy for registration services; and
iii. NOTED that the Director of Corporate Services would liaise with the
Director of Education, Culture & Sport in relation to providing ancestry
research facilities in Highland.
16. Finance Service Quarterly Performance Report for Quarter to December, 2004
There had been circulated Report No res-17-05
dated 21 January, 2005 by the Director of Finance which provided information on Finance Service performance for the quarter to 31 December, 2004 – the terms of which were NOTED
17. Tender for Banking Services
There had been circulated Report No res-18-05 dated 17 January, 2005 by the Director of Finance which detailed the outcome of a recent tendering exercise for the provision of banking services to the Council for a three year contract period from 1 April 2005, with the Council retaining an option to extend the contract for a period of up to twelve months after the end of the three year period.
Following consideration, the Committee NOTED that:-
i. under Section 21 of the Council’s Contract Standing Orders, the Director of
Finance had selected Clydesdale Bank plc for the provision of banking
ii. the new contract would commence on 1 April, 2005 for a period of three
years, with the Council retaining the option of extending the contract for a
period of up to twelve months at the end of that period.
18. Strathpeffer Pavilion
There had been circulated Joint Report No res-19-05
dated 9 February, 2005 by the Director of Education, Culture and Sport and Director of Property and Architectural Services which explained the proposed resolution to difficulties experienced by the Community Group leading the restoration of the Strathpeffer SPA Pavilion building, as previously discussed at the Budget Working Group (BWG) and the Education Culture and Sport (ECS) Committee. The report proposed that in order to allow time for the Community Company (SPA Co. Ltd) to establish itself, the Council enter into a ten year head lease for the building with its owners, the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT) and then lease it on to SPA Co Ltd. at a peppercorn rent.
Following discussion, and subject to a successful Social Improvement Fund bid for the funding required, the Committee AGREED in principle that:-
i. the Council enter into a ten year head lease of the Pavilion building from its
owners SHBT at a cost to the ECS Service of £10,000 per year, with the
landlord being responsible for external maintenance and all other terms and
conditions to be agreed with the Director of Property and Architectural
Services in consultation with the Director of Education, Culture and Sport;
ii. the Council lease the Pavillion to the Community company (SPA Co. Ltd.)
for 10 years at a peppercorn rent, with a rent review after 5 years. SPA Co
Ltd. would be responsible for all internal maintenance, and all other
conditions to be agreed with the Director of Property and Architectural
Services in consultation with the Director of Education, Culture and Sport;
iii. the Director of Property and Architectural Services be instructed to seek
consent for these transactions from the Scottish Ministers under Section 74
(2) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.
19. Northern Safety Camera Partnership
There had been circulated Report No res-20-05 dated 31 January, 2005 by the Director of Corporate Services which updated Members on the work of the Northern Safety Camera Partnership, which was launched in July 2004. Approval was sought to extend Highland Council’s involvement with the scheme over the period of the next Business Case, from 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006.
Following discussion, the Committee AGREED:
i. to support the Council’s continued involvement with the Northern Safety
Camera Partnership for the duration of the next Operational Case, which
covered the period from April 2005 to March 2006, to assist in meeting the
Scheme’s principal objective of reducing the number of people killed or
injured on Highland roads;
ii. that a report be submitted to the Resources Committee in February, 2006
with a further analysis of the Partnership’s progress; and
iii. that representations should be made to the Scottish Executive that any
surpluses generated by the scheme should be retained for spending on
other measures to improve road safety locally and not returned to Central
It was otherwise NOTED that the Northern Safety Camera Partnership expected to meet the financial targets set for the first 9 months of operation, and that all costs incurred by the Highland Council would be reimbursed through the scheme.
20. Fujitsu – Performance Report
There had been circulated Report No res-21-05 dated 9 February, 2005 by the Information Systems Client Manager which summarised the performance of the IS Partnership with Fujitsu for the period November, 2004 to January, 2005
The Committee NOTED the contents of the report.
21. Minutes of Meetings
The Committee APPROVED
the undernoted Minutes of Meetings –
i. Joint Consultation Group (Administrative Etc. Manual and Crafts Staffing) –
Minutes of Meetings of 10th December 2004;
ii. Central Safety Committee – Minutes of Meeting of 10th December 2004;
iii. Early Retirement Sub-Committee – Minutes of Meeting of
3rd February 2005;
iv. Appeals Committee – Minutes of Meeting of 30th November 2004 and
9th December 2004.
22. Job Evaluation Update
There had been circulated Report No res-22-05 dated 19 April, 2005 by the Director of Corporate Services which provided a further update on the progress of the Job Evaluation project and, in particular, provided detail in relation to timescales and resources.
The Committee NOTED the progress to date and the anticipated timescales and resource implications.
23. Amendments to Organisational Structures/Establishments
There had been circulated Report No res-23-05
dated 9 February, 2005 by the Director of Corporate Services recommending minor amendments to organisational structures/establishments as a consequence of proposals from Service Directors.
Following consideration, the Committee APPROVED amendments to the staffing establishments and other staffing changes as detailed in Section 2 and Appendix 1 to the report.
24. Property Disposals Requiring Scottish Ministers’ Consent
There had been circulated Report No. res-24-05 dated 24 January, 2005 by the Director of Property and Architectural Services which invited Members to consider two Area Committee recommendations to grant property disposals at below market value, subject to receipt of Scottish Ministers’ Consent.
Following consideration, the Committee:-
i. APPROVED the recommendations of the Area Committees to lease and
sell the following properties at below market value. Subject to other terms
and conditions to be agreed by the Director of Property and Architectural
Services in consultation with owning Services and the Council’s reasonable
costs to be met by the lessee and purchaser;
(a) Lease of Thurso Town Hall and Museum
(b) Sale of Wick Heritage Centre, Bank Row, Wick.
ii. AGREED that the Director of Property and Architectural Services should
seek consent for these transactions from the Scottish Ministers under
Section 74(2) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.
25. Exclusion of the Public
The Committee RESOLVED that under Section 50A (4) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, that the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1,6 and 9 of Part I of Section 7A of the Act.
26. National Non-Domestic Rates Recommended to be Written Off
There had been circulated to Members only Report No RES/25/04 dated 31 January, 2005 by the Director of Finance relating to National Non-Domestic Rates recommended to be written-off.
Following discussion, the Committee AGREED that the National Non-Domestic Rates detailed in the report should be written-off.
In respect of Non Domestic Rates reference numbers – 129350,128955, 132174, 132690, 136627, 136620, 128696, 122893, 146364, 146375, 146379,146376, 144412 given Members’ concerns regarding the large amount of bad debts involved, the following action should be taken:
i. The Head of Legal Services should be consulted regarding possible
which could be used to prevent the Directors of these businesses from
trading or acting as directors of other companies;
ii. Representations should be made to the Scottish Executive regarding
closing a loophole in the law which allowed companies to go into
establish a new company with a licence in the name of a third party, and
thereby avoid payment of debts.
iii. Other measures should be investigated in relation to the recovery of bad
debts (e.g. withholding an operating licence if a Company owed rates)
and that advice be sought from the Inland Revenue on how bad debtors
in these, and similar circumstances, could be pursued.
27. Sundry Debtor Accounts Recommended to be Written-Off
There had been circulated to Members only Report No RES/26/05 dated 31 January, 2005 by the Director of Finance which provided details of Sundry Debtor Accounts recommended for write-off.
The Committee AGREED that the Sundry Debtor Accounts detailed in the report should be written-off.
28. Property Transactions
There had been circulated to Members only Report No RES/27/05 dated 27 January, 2005 by the Director of Property and Architectural Services which summarised progress to date in sales targeted for completion within the current financial year, together with a summation of the Property Account property transactions approved by the Director of Property and Architectural Services.
Following discussion, the Committee:
i. NOTED progress made on property sales with anticipated settlement within
financial year 2004/05, and Property Account transactions approved by the
Director of Property and Architectural Services during the period 29
October 2004 to 22 December, 2004;
ii. AGREED that given the delay in settlement of the disposal of Land, at the
former Primary School, Auchtertyre, an investigation should be undertaken
to determine whether this land should now be re-advertised; and
iii. AGREED that until development plans at Riverside Field Industrial Estate,
Dingwall had been reviewed, missives on Units 2&3 and Workshop Unit 1 at
Riverside Field Industrial Estate should not be concluded.
The meeting ended at 1.20p.m.