The Director of Finance and IT outlined the desire to present a more strategic and aspirational Capital Programme than previous years had seen. The report offered an update on the progress and approach currently being taken.
The Chair welcomed the introduction of a ‘feasibility pot’ and expressed his own view regarding delegations that he was satisfied with the system currently in place. He was cautious that imposing a restriction on level of investments which could be delegated ran the risk of tying the Council down when there was a need for a rapid response to an opportunity or investment change.
Councillor Duffin expressed concern regarding section 2.4 of the report. Members had previously been advised that the Thameside Theatre would not close until a replacement theatre opened, but now there were reports the Thameside would be closing in 2019 with no information surrounding the opening date of the new theatre. Members heard that the Section 151 officer had not been involved in any conversation regarding the closure of the Thameside Theatre, and there was nothing related included within the Capital Programme.
There was some confusion regarding the decision process and it was clarified that, whilst both Overview and Scrutiny Committees and Cabinet could offer recommendations, the final decision would fall to full Council.
Councillor Watkins agreed with the £2million figure for the feasibility pot, but felt there should be a sensible threshold around delegations. When asked if he could propose a figure he advised he had no specific figure in mind, and it need not be anything too low but investments of above perhaps a figure of £5million should require the approval of full Council.
Councillor Duffin moved to the topic of Delegations and expressed concern regarding the Gloriana Scheme. He noted that he was limited in what he could discuss as there were ongoing matters, but requested information on how to call an emergency meeting of the Council to discuss the issue. It was necessary to ensure the current scheme was effective and appropriate before moving onto further schemes with Gloriana.
The Director of Finance and IT advised the Committee that whilst he could make proposals, the final decision lay with Councillors. If a de minimis were set at the level of £5million nothing linked to Gloriana would fall below that figure and so all decisions would come back to the Council. Otherwise Members could decide to impose no de minimis but remove Gloriana from the scheme of delegations so any Gloriana decision would fall to Members.
Councillor Duffin requested confirmation on the process from the Chair, he advised he did not know the exact figure but it would be a number of councillors signing a request to hold an emergency meeting but exact details would be outlined within the constitution and would be available by the end of the meeting.
1) The Committee noted the progress on bringing forward capital proposals
2) The committee commented on an approach to delegations