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Medway Council Cabinet Decisions, 19 February 2008

Date: 14/02/2008           Category: Members Services / Chief Executive Office

Medway Council's Cabinet met on 19 February and made the following decisions: Outcome of the Consultation on Establishing a New Academy School in Strood The Cabinet considered the results of consultation on proposal to create one new co-educational academy for all young people in Strood in brand new buildings on the Chapter School site. Cabinet had asked for people to be consulted on the plans to close Temple and Chapter Schools when considering a report on the future of secondary education in Strood on 25 September 2007. Cabinet heard that wide-ranging consultation had taken place over a ten-week period and had resulted in 490 responses and a petition from Chapter School. Several alternative suggestions had been put forward regarding future education in Strood. The formal responses to the consultation showed that the option of one mixed school in Strood was felt to be the right option by 55% or people, with 40% opposed. Chapter School emerged as the best site option. Members agreed that the new academy would provide state of the art facilities for a progressive curriculum that would fully reflect the changing demands both of higher education and of business and have a positive impact on ensuring that both boys and girls in Strood gained the knowledge, confidence and skills to develop as active and productive members of their communities and informed and responsible citizens. The Cabinet agreed to: authorise the Director of Children’s Services, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, to begin the formal closure procedures for Chapter and Temple Schools, delegate authority to the director and portfolio holder to decide whether or not to approve the closure proposals at the end of the statutory consultation period, delegate authority to the director and portfolio holder to take steps to establish a co-educational, eight form academy on the Chapter site for students aged 11 – 19 from 1 September 2009. Capital and Revenue Budgets 2008/09 Cabinet were told that the Medium Term Financial Plan highlighted a significant funding shortfall when it considered the draft capital and revenue budget proposals on 27 November. While better-than-expected government grant figures had resulted in a final settlement increase of 5.6%, Cabinet was told that this still left a budget deficit of £8.8 million. Members were reminded that Medway currently has the second lowest council tax of all mainland unitary authorities and considered the capital programme and revenue budgets for the coming year. Cabinet approved the capital budget and agreed to recommend to council a net revenue budget of £332.5 million based on a 5% council tax increase that would take the Band D figure for 2008/09 to £1041.48 Housing Revenue Account revenue and capital estimates 2008/09 Cabinet was told that the 2008/09 housing revenue account budget reflected issues such as rent restructuring, the need to ensure the council's homes met the Government's Decent Homes Standard, performance management, business planning and the potential need to part-fund a Tenant Management Organisation to manage Medway's homes. The housing revenue account is a ring-fenced account that deals with the income and expenditure relating to council homes. While the budget shows the a healthy projected working balance, Cabinet was told that the 30-year business plan meant that significant cash would be needed to make sure that Medway's homes could all be brought up to Decent Homes standards. Cabinet agreed to recommend proposed revenue and capital budgets that reflect an average rent increase of £3.26, equivalent to 5.08%. Service charges will increase on average by no more than inflation plus 0.5%. Treasury Management and Annual Investment Strategy 2008/11 The Cabinet considered what borrowing limits it would be prudent for the Council to set itself for the next three years - something it is required to do by law. Cabinet approved the strategy as set out in the report and recommended that Council approve the limits and indicators set out. Fit for Business - Review of Senior Management Structure Cabinet considered a proposal to change the senior management structure of the organisation to make it better equipped for the future and able to support Medway's commitment to become an excellent council with excellent services. The report recommended a new directorate structure with changed roles and responsibilities for a number of assistant directors and followed the early retirement of the Director of Community Services to take early retirement combined and the departure of two other assistant directors. Cabinet agreed to recommend that Council implements a two-directorate model, one dealing with regeneration, community and culture and the other with services for children and adults, from 1 April 2008. The new directorates would be supported by a business support department. Chatham Bus Facility Cabinet considered a report of the options appraisal designed to identify the best location for Chatham's bus station and ask Members to approve the submission of a planning application for the preferred location. Cabinet was reminded that the bus facility in Chatham was a key element in delivering the infrastructure necessary for the overall regeneration of Medway and will form the centre of an improved bus network for the area. They were asked to consider six potential new locations against a number of different criteria including passenger usability and the impact on public open space. Cabinet agreed to the principle of locating the bus facility on an 'island' site at Globe Lane (Option number 4) subject to a number of conditions. Members also agreed that a detailed design for that option should be worked up and a planning application submitted for the site. Chatham Centre and Waterfront Strategic Acquisitions Cabinet was told that some of the £10 million allocated by the Government's Communities and Local Government department towards Chatham Centre and Waterfront between 2005 and 2008 would not be spent in time because of delays in the bus station project following public consultation. It meant as much as £1.5 million could be lost if it was not spent by the end of the financial year. Cabinet recommended that Council should delegate authority to the Chief Executive and the Leader of the Council to purchase strategic land and property that would support the future growth of Medway in line with agreed masterplans. Call-in - Concessionary Fares Cabinet agreed to reconsider its decision to move the start time for the concessionary fares scheme from 9am to 9.30am subject to finance being available because the council's Regeneration and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee had referred the issue back for a rethink. Medway Learning and Skills Plan Cabinet considered the way in which the Medway Learning and Skills Plan (MLSP) links in with other aspects of Medway's development and regeneration strategies. Members were told that the MLSP was a critical component in delivering Medway's economic development strategy. Cabinet approved the plan. New Technology for Libraries - Gateway Three Contract Award Cabinet was asked to approve a request for the council to join the South East Library Management System (SELMS) consortium in order to procure a new library management system and to approve the funding for the system and related items. Cabinet agreed that Medway libraries should join the SELMS consortium subject to council approval to borrow the £300,000 funding required. Community Meals Service - Procurement Exemption Cabinet agreed an exemption to procurement rules to allow the community meals service to issue a single source contract to Apetito Services for one year. Carers Services - Contract Extension Cabinet agreed to extend four existing contracts for carers services - provided by voluntary organisations to support families and their relatives in Medway - for another year from the end of March 2008. The full agenda and record of the meeting are available at www.medway.gov.uk/index/council/cabinet.htm [ends]