EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Meeting: 4th February, 2005 at 2.00 p.m. PRESENT:- Councillors T. L. Waiting (Chairman), Pidduck (Vice-Chairman), Barlow, Bell, Crosthwaite, Garside, Joughin, Pears, M. A. Roberts, J. Waiting and Williams. 146 – The Local Government Act 1972 as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 – Urgent Item RESOLVED:- That by reason of the special circumstances outlined below the Chairman is of the opinion that the following item of business not specified on the agenda should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency in accordance with Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act, 1972. Item Reason Representations from West Lakes Renaissance To consider concerns expressed in a – Land at the Junction of Ashburner Way and letter of 3rd February by the Chief Walney Road (PC World) (Minute No. 151) Executive, West Lakes Renaissance on the implications for the Barrow Urban Design Framework of a possible departure from existing planning policy and to consider an appropriate response. 147 – Disclosures of Interest Councillors Crosthwaite, Garside, M. A. Roberts and J. Waiting disclosed with respect to the Urgent Item (Representations from West Lakes Renaissance – Land at the Junction of Ashburner Way and Walney Road (PC World) (Minute No. 151) that they had sat as Members of the Planning Committee at its meeting on 1st February, 2005. Councillors J. Waiting and T. L. Waiting (Chairman) disclosed personal interests in Agenda Item 7 (Annual Council Budget for the year 2005/06) (Minute No. 158) insofar as it related to the item on the Housing Revenue Account. Councillor Williams disclosed personal interests in Agenda Item 8 (Amendment to Contract Standing Orders) (Minute No. 159) and Agenda Item 9 (Proposed Extension of Liberata Revenues and Benefits Contract) (Minute No. 160). 148 – Minutes The Minutes of the meeting held on 10th January, 2005 were taken as read and confirmed. 149 – Apology for Absence An apology for absence was submitted from Councillor Opie. 150 – Attendance of Substitutes Councillors Crosthwaite, Garside and M. A. Roberts attended as substitutes respectively for Councillors Guselli, Groundwater and Morgan. 151 – Representations from West Lakes Renaissance – Land at the Junction of Ashburner Way and Walney Road (PC World) The Chief Executive reported on concerns expressed by the Chief Executive of West Lakes Renaissance (WLR) on the implications for the Barrow Urban Design Framework of a possible departure from existing planning policy. The Planning Committee at its meeting on 1st February, 2005 had resolved that it was minded to approve an application for a PC World store at the junction of Ashburner Way and Walney Road, Barrow-in-Furness. The purpose of the Urban Design Framework (UDF) was to map out a future strategy for the town centre that would ultimately be adopted by the Council to guide planning policy and regeneration. The UDF was being prepared by a consortium of consultants jointly commissioned by the Borough Council and WLR and was currently in final draft form. Whilst in draft form little weight could be attached to the UDF as a material consideration in the planning decision, a departure from established planning policy may well influence its implementation. It was felt that it would be appropriate to seek the views of the consultants on the likely impact on the UDF were the decision to be confirmed by the Planning Committee at its meeting on 1st March, 2005. This would involve a further commission to the consultants‟ current brief. However, since the advice sought was specific and limited in nature it was not considered that significant costs would be involved. The consultants report and the letter from the Chief Executive, WLR would be submitted to Planning Committee for their consideration. RESOLVED:- That it be agreed to seek the views of consultants on the likely impact on the Urban Design Framework of the approval of a possible departure from existing planning policy. 152 – North West Rail Investment Campaign The Director of Finance reported on an invitation to the Council to join the North West Rail Investment Campaign. The campaign comprised a wide range of public and private sector bodies who were committed to securing the essential improvements to the rail network in the North West which would help the region to realise its potential. The strategy for 2005-06 in regard to prioritisation and campaigning was presently being formulated. A document appended to his report outlined the issues which were seen as relevant for Barrow and Cumbria. The work of the campaign was being recognised at a national level, both inside and outside the rail industry and the organisation‟s views were being sought on issues including the Cumbria coast line. The cost of joining the campaign was £5,000; payable in April. RESOLVED:- (i) That it be agreed the Council should take up membership of the North West Rail Investment Campaign and the cost of joining the campaign (£5,000) be met from reserves. (ii) That the issue of representation within the campaign organisation be pursued. 153 – Local Government Pension Reform – Employers’ Organisation Response to the Government’s Proposals The Chief Executive reported that the Government‟s Green Paper – „Facing the Future – Propositions and Principles for an Affordable and Sustainable Local Government Pension Scheme‟ (LGPS) set out its thinking on planned reforms to the LGPS which it intended to introduce in 2008 to maintain an affordable final salary pension scheme for local government and to bring the scheme into line with planned changes to the pension tax regime. The Governments proposals included an increase in employee contributions from 6% to 7% to redress the balance of funding between employers and employees. Also proposed was as two tier ill-health retirement system as had already been introduced for the Civil Service, to distinguish between incapacity to do any work (retired with enhanced benefits) and incapacity to perform current duties (retired with un-enhanced benefits). The Chief Executive recommended that the response of the Employers‟ Organisation, which offered clear and specific responses on the issues raised by Government be endorsed but that Members indicate their preferred options on (1) the cost of the scheme and (2) two tier ill-health retirement. RESOLVED:- That the response of the Employers Organisation to the Government‟s consultation on reform of the Local Government Pension Scheme be endorsed and the following preferred options as more fully expressed in the draft response be indicated on the identified issues. 7(iii) Costs of the Scheme Option 2 – Targetting a slightly lower employer rate to that under the current scheme (after the effects of the removal of the 85 year rule from the scheme have been taken into account) as being more acceptable to employers (and to Council Tax payers) and being more likely to ensure the long term affordability and sustainability of the scheme. 7(xv) Two Tier Ill Health Retirement Option 1 – Support for a second tier of un-enhanced ill health retirement benefits payable for life. 154 – Barrow Festival of the Sea and Sea Britain 2005 Celebrations The Chief Executive submitted a report which sought approval to the Festival of the Sea event listing for 2005 and the event management arrangements for Barrow Festival of Sail to be held in the Port of Barrow on 4th and 5th June, 2005 as the premier event of Barrow Festival of the Sea 2005. It had previously been recommended that the 2005 event could incorporate a theme around merchant shipping constructed in Barrow and that the Festival link into the regional SeaBritain2005 programme. Barrow Festival of the Sea 2005 The Festival would be launched on 17th March, 2005 in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the launch of the British Admiral and run through to Trafalgar Weekend to link in with the national SeaBritain celebrations planned to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. Many event organisers in the Borough had pledged their support to the Festival and themed their events accordingly. The Council had been successful in obtaining £60,000 of European Regional Development Funds towards the costs of the Festival and its marketing and promotion. Additionally Barrow, Copeland and Allerdale Councils were working with Cumbria Tourist Board to co-ordinate Cumbria‟s SeaBritain events as part of a regional programme to which the Festival of the Sea would contribute. Barrow Festival of Sail The tall ships attracted to Barrow in 2004 had proved very popular and the opportunity had been found to bring 5 ships to Barrow for the weekend of 4th and 5th June to feature in a Festival of Sail. The vessels would be moored on Town Quay and the Festival site would stretch along the water‟s edge to the pontoons installed in Ramsden Dock. The Princess Selandia would be open throughout the Festival and the owners have agreed to be a festival sponsor. Associated British Ports had agreed to support the event and to the use of their land and port facilities. They would be responsible for all water based activity. The Council would have the responsibility for organising the quayside activities. It was proposed that the event be managed by the Council through the Town Centre and Festivals Manager and the Safety Manager supported by other staff where appropriate. A working budget for the event had been set at £120,000. The event would attract £10,000 European Grant and with an income target of £50,000 there would be a net cost to the Council of £60,000. The report identified the principal income streams and proposed fees. To attract additional visitors it was recommended that admission to Town Quay be free when the ships were not open to the public. Owing to the difficulty of providing safe access to vessels it was suggested that wheelchair users be given free admission to the event although Festival car parking charges would still apply. A Festival of the Sea Funfair would be sited on land owned by the Council at Cavendish Dock adjacent to the Festival Car Park and operate throughout the event, the following week and during the National Powerboat Grandprix planned for 11th and 12th June. Festival Fund All receipts from the 2004 event had been reinvested in the Festival fund leaving a surplus of £130,000. The fund would receive a further £100,000 from URF on 1st April, 2005 and then have a working balance of £230,000. It was recommended that the costs of Barrow Festival of Sail be met from the Festival Fund and that all the income achieved be reinvested in the fund. RESOLVED:- (i)That the Chief Executive in consultation with the Council‟s insurers be empowered to approve the Festival of Sail Event Management Plan. (ii) That the event listing for Barrow Festival of the Sea 2005 be noted. 155 – Town Hall Office Reorganisation The Chief Executive reported that Phase 1 and 2 of the reorganisation and improvements of office accommodation in the Town Hall were now complete. The next phase of the work was based around a proposal to bring together a one stop telephone service facility for customers of the Council and a co-ordinated one stop customer services point. The creation of an integrated call centre and central reception area, would require: The relocation of the IT offices to the second floor. The relocation of the Design Services Group on the second floor, which would also provide a new office for the newly created post of Community Services Manager. The conversion of the existing IT offices into the CRM call centre to directly link and work together with a re-vamped central reception area. The report also identified the following works: The installation of new automatic sliding doors at the main Duke Street entrance which would require the entrance to be closed during April and May. The installation of a modern platform lift in central reception to provide access into the adjacent ground floor offices, toilets and lift. The upgrading of the ground floor toilets and inclusion of facilities for the disabled. The upgrading of the existing second floor gents toilets and the provision of separate facilities for females. The creation of a customer services area in the former banking hall, accessed either from Central Reception or the Cornwallis Street entrance. This area would be provided with a range of private interview facilities. Funds were earmarked in the Capital Programme to complete all these works. RESOLVED:- That the proposals for office developments within the Town Hall be agreed. 156 – Regeneration Programme The Director of Regeneration submitted a report setting out details of the Heart of Barrow and West Lakes Renaissance activities during 2004/05 and forecasts for 2005/06. Heart of Barrow „Building Bridges‟ Urban Regeneration Fund Channelside The reclamation of the former Ironworks site had created 14 acres of reclaimed serviced land for development. Both Phases 1 and 2 development of industrial units were complete and 60% let. Other areas of underused land in the Channelside area had been subject to a site investigation to identify development potential. The former west shop located at the junction of Bridge Road and Bridge Approach acquired by the Council was to be the subject of a major environmental improvement scheme. It was felt that this site offered the best potential to meet the identified demand for further industrial development sites. Agreement had been reached with BAE Systems to acquire Waterside House for conversion into an entrepreneur centre occupied and managed on the Council‟s behalf by Furness Enterprise. It would also be integrated into the development of the adjacent West Shop site. Town Centre 1. Astra Cinema Site The design for the creation of a gateway office development had been selected, the design team appointed and the planning application submitted. Applications for funding would shortly be submitted to North West Development Agency and the European Liaison Unit. It was anticipated the scheme would commence in September 2005 and be completed by July 2006. 2. Pye Motors Site The acquisition of the site had been completed and the site identified by a Housing Association for development of a 40 bed extra care sheltered housing scheme. Discussions would be undertaken with British Rail on improving the access to and the profile of the railway station. 3. Urban Design Framework The Urban Design Framework for the Town Centre would be presented to the Executive Committee during the next cycle prior to public consultation. Funding to implement the initial phases had been included in the WLR and URF Programmes. 4. Townscape Heritage Programme The first phase approval for a townscape heritage programme had been secured. This would focus on the conservation area in Abbey Road between the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel and Ramsden Square. The Heritage Lottery had awarded the Council a grant of £25,000 to develop the scheme for the phase two submission. The successful lottery grant would secure £1M and would be matched by £1M of URF funding to implement the scheme targeted at dealing with neglected and obsolete buildings and providing an improved street scene. 5. 76 Duke Street The refurbishment of this former vacant office building had been let to a local property management company. Work on the market entrance, shops and first floor offices was nearing completion, although the project had been affected by serious delays. The project would offer 7,000 sq. ft. of modern office accommodation to medium enterprise. 6. Furness House Funding had been approved under the URF programme to obtain legal advice as a precursor to compulsory purchase. 7. Greengate Mill The site of the Mill and adjacent garage was now in the process of being sold to Accent Housing Association for residential development. 8. Barrow Docks The construction of the Barrow Quay Promenade was now complete. A contract had been let to develop a design framework for the Marina Village. Once the plan had been accepted the acquisition of land and properties required to implement the plan would be progressed. Legal advice was being obtained for a compulsory purchase programme to support the acquisition process. English Partnerships had agreed to fund the acquisition of Egerton Buildings to facilitate the provision of an access road and create an opportunity for new family housing on adjacent land. Negotiations were currently progressing for the purchase of the tenement buildings and with BAE Systems for redundant land adjacent to Egerton Court, necessary for the western access road to the Dock Estate. 9. Heritage Tourism Consultants had been appointed to develop proposals for both the Furness Abbey area, Walney and Piel Islands. The Furness Abbey study was in draft stage and would be shortly presented for consultation. The Island study was in the early stages of preparation and would be presented to the Executive Committee during the summer. 10. Marketing Barrow Furness Vision had agreed to support a new campaign to market and raise the profile of Barrow. The first stage of the project would be a baseline study to establish public perceptions and attitudes. Provision had been allocated in the URF budget to fund a consultancy to undertake the study. West Lakes Renaissance Programme A report provided by West Lakes Renaissance (WLR) dealt with the following matters:1. Port of Barrow Masterplan The most significant event during the past year had been the launch of the Port of Barrow Masterplan including the consultation exercise which had been undertaken and the setting up of a Strategic Management Group to progress its implementation. Work by WLR had involved the commissioning of site wide surveys, continuing work with the Cumbria Cruise and Ferry Steering Group and an economic impact study currently underway commissioned by CTB in partnership with WLR. A successful outcome to a bid for ERDF support of £4½M for the port redevelopment as a regionally significant project was expected. In the coming year, the completion of the port wide site investigation would lead to the first phase of the Innovation Park. Five hectare blocks of fully serviced opportunity land would become available on a phased annual basis from the end of 2006 onwards. Work to implement both the Cruise Terminal and Canal Entrance was already underway with full European Procurement processes being followed for the appointment of the design team and eventual contractors. 2. Education and Enterprise Initiatives Initiatives were being commenced to address the significant problem of retention of 18-30 year olds in the town. Together with partners the WLR were looking at the development of higher education and an entrepreneurial culture. An Enterprise Fund, led by Furness Enterprise was already underway and expected to create 90 jobs in the current year against a target of 50. The Urban Design Framework for the Town Centre was nearing completion showing how the town could be developed and adjusted to support the planned regeneration. Work had been undertaken to look at the feasibility of developments at Furness Abbey, as referred to earlier, a Submarine Heritage Centre and the commercial operation of Walney Airfield. The new Enterprise Support Strategy would be finalised and implementation would proceed with events and outreach to encourage entrepreneurship, the development of a creative sector network, and the continuing Enterprise Fund run through Furness Enterprise and others. Higher Education development would continue with support for the University Education in Cumbria initiative to provide higher education in the town. The Council would begin the implementation of recommendations emerging from the Urban Design Framework. At the same time a comprehensive marketing exercise would begin with the aim of providing the image of Barrow as a place in which to live, work and invest. Furness College would, with the support of WLR and the Learning and Skills Council, develop a new multi trades facility enabling the training of plumbers, electricians and other building trades onsite in Barrow for the first time to ensure that opportunities arising from the construction programme were fully grasped locally. RESOLVED:- That the report on Heart of Barrow and West Lakes Renaissance activities during 2004/05 and forecasts for 2005/06 be noted. 157 – Changes to The Dock Museum’s Collection Management Plan 2004-2006 The Collections Manager, The Dock Museum recommended changes to be made to the Museum‟s Collection Management Plan in order to fully comply with national Registration standards. Registration was important to allow access to various grants and advice. The changes were as follows:1. Paragraph 30 dealing with exceptions to the Acquisitions Policy to be amended in line with Registration guidelines to read: “Acquisitions outside the current stated policy should only be made in very exceptional circumstances, and then only after proper consideration by the governing body of the museum itself, having regard to the interests of other museums.” 2. Paragraph 76 being amended to read: “Once a decision to dispose of an item has been taken, priority will be given to keeping it in the public domain and it will be offered by exchange, gift or sale to other registered museums before sale to an interested individual or organisation is considered.” In line with Registration guidelines, the object would be offered to another registered museum before being offered back to the donor. 3. The amendment of Paragraph 78 to state: “of the curator acting alone” instead of “the Dock Museum will not act alone.” 4. Paragraph 79 being amended to read that the advice of the MLA will be sought (The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council is the government funded body that dispenses advice and grants to museums). REFERRED ITEMS THE FOLLOWING MATTERS ARE REFERRED TO COUNCIL FOR DECISION 158 – Annual Council Budget for the Year 2005/06 The Director of Finance presented the Prudential Statement of the Council for the year 2005/06, a projection of revenue budgets for three years to 31st March, 2008, the Capital Programme to 31st March, 2008 and the General Fund Revenue Budget and Housing Revenue Account Budget for 2005/06. The Prudential Statement of the Council for the year 2005/06 Reports covered the operation of the Councils Prudential Indicators, its treasury function and its likely activities for the forthcoming year. The report incorporated three key Council reporting requirements: The reporting of the main prudential indicators in accordance with the requirements of the CIPFA Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities. The treasury strategy for 2005/06 in accordance with the CIPFA Code of Practice on Treasury Management, incorporating the summary to the investment strategy (in accordance with the ODPM investment guidance). It also included the specific treasury management prudential indicators. The treasury management practices. It was recommended that the Council adopt the prudential indicators and limits for 2005/06 and 2007/08 contained within the report, approve the treasury management strategy for 2005/06 and the treasury prudential indicators and approve the investment strategy for 2005/06 contained in the treasury management strategy, and the treasury management practices included in Annexe B1 of the report. Specifically approving the incorporation of:- Credit rating criteria for the new investment regime, part of TMP1 „Risk Management‟ approved at Executive Committee, 1st September, 2004. Money laundering TMP9 approved at Executive Committee, 1st September, 2004; subsequently revised for the report presented. Changes to daily procedures incorporated in Appendix B of Annexe B1 of the report. This statement sets limits on the Capital Programme, amounts of borrowing to support the programme. The Treasury Management Policy laid out how the Council selected institutions for dealing in the money market, limits on exposures and management of risk. Projection of Revenue Budgets to 31st March, 2008 These projected the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account for the three years to 31st March, 2008 and detailed the assumptions used in making those budget forecasts. The Director of Finance drew particular attention to the projected need to raise Council Tax by 9.3% in 2007/08 and to monitor the situation carefully to determine any advance action considered appropriate to mitigate against an increase of this level. Capital Programme The Capital Programme had been approved in principle together with variations to the 2004/05 programme at the Executive Committee, 1st December, 2004 (Minute No. 117) and was presented for formal approval. Revised General Fund Revenue Budget for 2004/05 and General Fund Revenue Budget for 2005/06 This had been approved in principle at the Executive Committee, 10th January, 2005 (Minute No. 139 refers) and Members were asked to formally approve the proposals. These left the General Reserve at £1,000,000, the Opportunities Reserve at £976,420, the General Provision for VAT at £111,620, the Cremator Relining Reserve at £8,600 and the Market Refurbishment Reserve at £50,650. As in previous years the Director of Finance advised that £1,000,000 was the prudential level for the General Reserve. An addendum to the report of the Director of Finance was submitted detailing the Final National Financial Settlement for 2005/06 and its effect on the Councils budget together with early public comment on budget proposals. The financial settlement now laid before the House of Commons had resulted in a further increase of £51,000 (0.7%) in Central Support. The £549,765 increase in Central Support from 2004/05 to 2005/06 was 8.2%. This increase reduced the original estimate of Barrow‟s share of the Council Tax to £121.99 per annum for a Band A property (£182.99 Band D), i.e. an increase of 5.9 pence per week for Band A (8.85 pence Band D) or 2.58%. A summary of the General Fund Budget sheet with additional financing information was submitted. Consultation To date only one response had been received to the consultative advertisement published in the local media and on the Councils website. Matters raised in response mainly affected County Council services and had consequently been forwarded to the County Treasurer. Housing Revenue Account The Housing Revenue Account proposals had been approved in principle at the Executive Committee, 10th January, 2005 (Minute No. 137 refers). Members were requested to formally approve the proposals relating to the Housing Revenue Account. The Director of Finance recommended that £500,000 continued to be the prudential level for the Housing Revenue Account General Reserve. Budget Approval and Council Tax Level for the Borough 2005/06 The Director of Finance reported that Cumbria County Council and the Police Authority were to meet to approve their precepts on 17th and 18th February, 2005 respectively. Accordingly arrangements were to be made to call an Extraordinary Council meeting to approve the Council‟s Budgets and set the Council Tax for 7.00 p.m. on Wednesday, 23rd February, 2005. In order to deal with any delay by one of the other preceptors in setting their precept, he recommended the appointment of a Council Tax Setting Committee for the remainder of the current financial year. RECOMMENDED:- That the Council agree: 1) The Prudential Statement of the Council for 2005/06. The adoption of the prudential indicators and limits for 2005/06 to 2007/08 contained within the report. The approval of the treasury management strategy 2005/06, and the treasury prudential indicators. The approval of the investment strategy 2005/06 contained in the treasury management strategy, and the treasury management practices included in Annexe B1 and specifically the incorporation of: 2) Credit rating criteria for the new investment regime, part of TMP1 „Risk Management‟ approved at Executive Committee, 1st September, 2004. Money laundering TMP9 approved at Executive Committee, 1st September, 2004 and subsequently revised. Changes to daily procedures incorporated in Appendix B of Annexe B1. The Capital Programme for the years from 1st April, 2005 to 31st March, 2008 together with variations to the current programme. The revised General Fund Revenue Budget for the year 2004/05 and the General Fund Budget for 2005/06; including:(3.i) (3.ii) (3.iii) Listed increased costs Amendments to the establishment Increases in fees and charges 3) 4) 5) The Housing Revenue Account Budget for 2005/06 including rent rises. That to make provision for delay in the notification of any precept it be a recommendation to the Council that the functions of the Authority for the purpose of Section 67(2)(c) of the Local Government Finance Act, 1992 namely the setting of an amount of Council Tax for 2005/06 for the Borough and its Parishes be exercised by a Committee of the Authority appointed for that purpose in accordance with Section 67(3) of the Act and which shall be constituted as the Council Tax Setting Committee and that the said Committee:(a) Comprise the 12 Members (or substitute Members) appointed as Members or substitute Members of the Executive Committee, and That their appointment as Members of the Council Tax Setting Committee be fixed for the period 24th February, 2005 to 31st March, 2005. (b) 159 – Amendment to Contract Standing Orders The Director of Finance reported on proposed changes to the Contract Standing Orders of the Council aimed at limiting any discouragement of local small business from competing for Council work. Participants at a recent Achieving Cumbria Excellence (ACE) seminar on procurement had been advised of the large cost to an organisation both financially and in managerial resources, of responding to formal invitations to tender. Whilst the tender process acted as a check against improper benefits from personal influence if the limits on tender requirements were set too low, local small businesses may be discouraged from applying for Council work. At present Contract Standing Orders required the invitation of tenders where the contract sum was estimated to exceed £25,000. This level was considered to be too low and it was proposed that the limit be set at £100,000. He submitted a copy of the current relevant sections of the Contract Standing Orders and the Procurement Policy and his report detailed the recommended changes. RECOMMENDED:- That Council agree to: 1) Amend the Contract Standing Orders as follows:a) b) c) d) e) f) g) 2) Amend the “£25,000” in the title of Section 3 to “£100,000” Amend the “£25,000” in para 3.1 to “£100,000” Amend “in accordance with financial regulations” in paragraph 3.1 to “in accordance with the procurement policy” Amend “£25,000” in para 4.1 to “£100,000” Omit reference to para 4.4 in para 4.1 Omit para 4.22 Renumber paras 4.2.3 & 4.2.4 to 4.2.2 & 4.2.3 respectively Amend the Quality and Price Section of the Procurement Policy “for goods and services between £5,001 and £25,000” to “for goods and services between £5,001 and £100,000 ….” 160 – Proposed Extension of the Liberata Revenues and Benefits Contract The Director of Finance reported that the Council had let the contract for the administration of Revenues and Benefits for 10 years from 1st October, 1998 to Liberata UK Limited (then CSL Limited). In addition to the 51 posts, which had been transferred with the contract, Liberata now had an additional 99 employees servicing other Councils in areas where there were recruitment difficulties. The original aim of the outsourcing, as a boost to local employment, could therefore be considered to have been met by the company. Partnership working between the Council and Liberata had rectified earlier problems arising from the introduction of the Verification Process. The Council now had benefit performance in the top quartile of the National Performance League Table. Furthermore Council Tax collection had increased in each of the five financial years to 31st March, 2004 and was on target for a similar increase in the current financial year. As part of its financial strategy, Liberata was looking to create Centres of Excellence for the main services it provided with satellite centres running from them. Local performance would be a significant factor in the company‟s consideration of sites for Benefit Excellence. However, the company would look for more than three years continuing contract security before committing to investment. Liberata had proposed that the Council extend the current contract to 30th September, 2018. The current terms of annual inflation increases equal to the increase in the retail price index would continue to apply. The company had suggested setting annual performance standards based on the national performance indicators for benefits and the percentage of collection for Council Tax. Failure to then meet these targets would lead to reductions in the contract payments up to £30,000 in any one year. Liberata were interested in formalising partnership working and examining other areas of co-operation between the Council and themselves. RECOMMENDED:- That it be agreed in principle to extend the Liberata Revenues and Benefits Contract to the year 2018, with agreed penalties for contract underperformance and to consider the substantive agreement at a future meeting. 161 – Cumbria Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy – Framework Document The Chief Environmental Health Officer reported on progress made by the Cumbria Strategic Waste Partnership (CSWP) in preparing a joint strategy for waste management throughout Cumbria and recommended approval of the strategic framework document. The need for development of a joint strategy had been a key task of the officer and Member groups of the CSWP. This had been given greater relevance by recent guidance issued by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The guidance indicated that for two-tier local government areas joint municipal waste management strategies would be required from April 2005 onwards. A copy of the framework document, which partner organisations had been asked to endorse, was appended to his report. The document detailed the outputs to be delivered by the partnership and was a crucial part of the strategic documentation to be submitted to DEFRA at the point when joint municipal strategies were required. The majority of the outputs required further refinement before an effective action plan could be drawn up. However, there was a specific requirement for all Waste Collection Authorities to achieve a minimum recycling rate of 30% by 2006/07. The Borough Councils current recycling rate of 21% bettered the statutory target of a recycling rate of 18% by the end of financial year 2005/06. To achieve the 30% rate within the requisite timescale changes to the Councils existing practices would have to be considered that would have operational and/or financial consequences. It was suggested that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Community and Environment, which was currently undertaking a review of the waste management service, be tasked to report further on the feasibility of meeting the recycling target set by the framework document. RECOMMENDED:- That the Cumbria Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy Framework Document be approved in principle and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Community and Environment) be tasked with identifying and reporting to the Executive Committee on the problems and financial implications for the Borough Council of meeting the targets identified in the Framework Document. The meeting closed at 3.45 p.m.