Minutes of Meeting of the Highland and Western Isle Valuation Joint Board held in the Council Offices, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 10.30 a.m.
Representing The Highland Council:-
Mrs H Carmichael, Mr J McGillivray, Ms M Smith, Miss J Campbell, Mr J S Gray, Mr L R Fraser, Mr F D S Black
Representing Western Isles Council:-
Mr M MacLeod, Mr K Murray
Officials in attendance:-
Mr D Gillespie, Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer
Mr A Bernard, Treasurer’s Office
Mrs R Moir, Clerk’s Office
Mrs H Carmichael in the Chair
1. Apologies for Absence
An apology for absence was intimated on behalf of Mr P Cairns, The Highland Council.
2. Appointment of Clerk and Monitoring Officer
Following the retirement of the previous Clerk, Ms Roslyn Pieroni, the Board AGREED to appoint Ms Michelle Morris, Assistant Chief Executive, The Highland Council, as Clerk to the Board, with immediate effect.
The Board also AGREED that the person shortly to be appointed to the new post of Head of Legal and Democratic Services, The Highland Council, be also appointed Monitoring Officer to the Board at that time.
3. Minutes of Last Meeting
There had been circulated and were APPROVED Minutes of the Board Meeting of 9 January 2008.
4. Revenue Budget Monitoring Statement 2007/08
There had been circulated Report No Val-4-08 comprising a statement and commentary by the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer on Revenue Expenditure and Income for the period to 29 February 2008. The report showed actual net expenditure of £2,229,000 as against anticipated expenditure for the period of £2,258,000, representing an underspend of £29,000. The report also showed an anticipated year end out-turn of £2,548,000 as against the annual budget of £2,622,000, representing an anticipated underspend of £74,000.
The Board NOTED the position.
5. Annual Audit Plan 2007/08
There had been circulated Report No Val-5-08 by the Mr R Clark, Senior Audit Manager, Audit Scotland setting out the 2007/08 Annual Audit Plan for the Highland and Western Isles Valuation Joint Board. Planned work in 2007/08 included an audit of the financial statements and a review and assessment of the Joint Board’s governance arrangements in a number of key areas.
In response to questions, the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer clarified that planned work areas were selected by Audit Scotland and also that further information on risk assessment could be found on the Department’s website.
The Board NOTED the report.
6. Review of Discretionary Policies under the Local Government Pension Scheme
There had been circulated Report No Val-6-08 by the Treasurer which reviewed the Board’s discretionary policies under the Local Government Pension Scheme following changes in HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) legislation.
Discretionary Payments Regulations had initially been set up in 1998 and were subject to review every five years. The last review had taken place in 2003 and the next full review was scheduled for 2008. However, changes to HMRC legislation which had been incorporated into the Local Government Pension Scheme (Scotland) Regulations with effect from October 2006 directly affected two of the current Discretionary Policies, requiring them to be reviewed in advance of the next scheduled review.
The Board NOTED the removal of the policy on the abatement of pensions upon re-employment and AGREED:
i. that the suspension of contributions, as detailed in the report, be removed
with effect from 1 October 2006;
ii. to review all policies in 2008 as part of the five year review incorporating
these changes; and
iii. that, in line with the main scheme policy, there be an “opt out” provision
allowing reconsideration of any specific discretion if the specific
circumstances of an individual case merited it.
7. Scheme of Approved Duties
There had been circulated and was APPROVED Report No Val-7-08 by the Assistant Clerk setting out a Scheme of Approved Duties for Members of the Board tailored to the circumstances of Board membership.
8. Update Report - Gender, Disability and Race Equality Schemes
Members were advised that there was an obligation for periodic reports to be received by the Board in relation to the Department’s Gender, Disability and Race Equalities Schemes. In this connection, there had been circulated Report No Val-8-08 by the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer setting out an annual report on each of the Schemes, which the Board was required to publish.
In response to questions, the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer commented on a number of matters, including:
• difficulties faced in relation to Electoral Registration of members of some
minority ethnic communities
• engagement with minority communities generally
• postal/proxy voting, particularly following a change in the legislation covering
• disability access in Departmental offices
• potential future developments on personal identifiers
He undertook to brief Members further on current guidance in relation to electoral registration and voting practice for care home residents.
The Board NOTED the report and AGREED to the production of a single Equalities policy in a timescale similar to that being adopted by Highland Council.
9. Departmental Report
There had been circulated Report No Val-9-08 by the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer advising on the current position of the main activities of the Department. Since the previous meeting of the Board, the Department had been concerned with the ingathering of personal identifiers for postal voting purposes, the maintenance of the council tax list, clearance of rating appeals and preparation work for the 2010 rating valuation.
In response to questions, the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer confirmed that he could make copies of Valuation Appeal Panel decision notices available to interested Members. He also clarified the separate roles of his office and the Highland Council in relation to non-domestic rates relief issues, his role being limited to considering applications for commercial property revaluation, for example in cases of lengthy periods of public works disturbance.
Following discussion, the Board NOTED the report.
The Board RESOLVED that, under Section 50A(4) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 the public be excluded from the meeting for this item on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 1 or Part I of Schedule 7A of the Act.
10. Retirement – Forward Planning
There had been circulated to Members only Report No VAL10/08 by the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer informing the Board of the imminent retirement of certain members of staff and the potential effect on the Department in the foreseeable future.
The Board AGREED the proposals contained within the report.
The meeting ended at 11.55 a.m.