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Meeting Details

SELEP Accountability Board
26 May 2017 - 10:00 to 12:00

Documents

Agenda

Agenda
Standard Items
1 Welcome and Apologies for Absence
1

The following apologies were received:

  • Councillor Kevin Bentley (substituted by Councillor David Finch)
  • Councillor Paul Carter (substituted by Councillor Mark Dance)
  • Councillor Rodney Chambers (substituted by Councillor Alan Jarrett.).
  • Councillor Rob Gledhill
2 Declarations of Interest
To note any declarations of interest to be made by Members in accordance with the Members' Code of Conduct
2

None were made.

3 Pdf Minutes (69Kb)
3

The Minutes of the meetings held on 31st March were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

With reference to Minute 4 (A13 Widening LGF award) the Chairman advised the Board that final Government approval had been received from the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling.

 

4

The Accountability Board (the Board) received a report from Rhiannon Mort, the purpose of which was to make the Board aware of:

 

    1. The award of project change flexibilities within SELEP’s Grant Offer Letter 2017/18 received from the Department for Communities and Local Government; and

    2 .The progress which has been made by the SELEP executive team and the federal areas in implementing the changes necessitated by the refreshed Assurance Framework. This is to follow on from the presentation provided to the SELEP Strategic Board on 3rd March 2017 and the subsequent update to the Accountability Board on 31st March 2017. The Board was reminded that it is accountable for assuring that all requirements are implemented; it is a condition of the Local Growth Funding that the Assurance Framework is being implemented.

Rhiannon Mort advised the Board that as referred to in paragraph 4 of the report, there is no longer the requirement to seek Government approval in respect of project changes which are agreed by the Board.

The Department for Communities and Local Government are currently undertaking a review into the governance and transparency of LEPs, led by Mary Ney. A report is due to be prepared ahead of the general election.

Myroulla West asked whether the Government were happy with SELEP's assurance framework, Rhiannon confirmed that they were. Myroulla also suggested that in future, timescales should be included in reports provided to the Board. Rhiannon confirmed that this request would be noted.

 

Resolved

  1. To Note the award of Local Growth Fund project change flexibilities as stated within SELEP’s Grant Offer Letter 2017 from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
  2. To Note the progress to date in implementing the 2017 SELEP Assurance Framework.

 

5

The Board received a report from Rhiannon Mort and presentation from Steer Davies Gleave,the purpose which was to make the Board aware of the value for money assessment for the Ashford International Rail Connectivity Project - Ashford Spurs which has been through the Independent Technical Evaluator (ITE) process to enable £4.173m funding to be devolved to Kent County Council for scheme delivery.

A copy of a letter of assurance from Eurostar International Ltd dated 3rd March 2017 was given to Board members. There followed a discussion regarding this and whilst it was acknowledged that this was not in fact legally binging, it was felt to provide sufficiently strong assurance. 

Resolved

To Approve the remaining £4.173m LGF allocation to Ashford International Rail Connectivity Project to support the delivery of the Project identified in the Business Case and which has been assessed as presenting high value for money with medium certainty of achieving this.

6

The Board received a report from Louise Aitken and a presentation from Steer Davies Gleave,the purpose of which was to seek the Board's approval for the award of Local Growth Fund (LGF) to Sussex Downs College 3rd Phase of refurbishment of Science Facilities at the Lewes Campus (the Project).

The Board welcomed the fact that there was an underspend due to the efficiency in delivering the previous phase of the Project.

Resolved

1. To Approve the award of £39,515 LGF (Skills Capital allocation) to the 3rd Phase of refurbishment of Science Facilities in the Lewes Campus.
2.To Note that the remaining skills capital underspend of £25,439 will be added to the uncommitted LGF for consideration by the Board.

7

The Board received a report from Louise Aitken, and a presentation from Steer Davies Gleave, the purpose which report was to seek the Board's approval for the award of £3.5m of Local Growth Fund (LGF) to be devolved to Essex County Council for delivery of the Technical and Professional Skills Centre at Stansted Airport.

Resolved

To Approve the award of £3.5m LGF to the Technical and Professional Skills Centre at Stansted Airport as set out in the Business Case which has been assessed as presenting high value for money with high certainty of achieving this.

8

The Board received a report from Rhiannon Mort and a presentation from Steer Davies Gleave,the purpose of which was to make the Board aware of the value for money assessment for Basildon Integrated Transport Tranche 2 Package (Project) which has been through the Independent Technical Evaluator (ITE) process to enable £6.4m funding to be devolved to Essex County Council for scheme delivery.

Resolved

To Approve the £6.4m LGF allocation to Basildon Integrated Transport Package Tranche 2 Project to support the delivery of the Project identified in the Business Case and which has been assessed as presenting achieving high value for money with low to medium certainty of achieving.

9

The Board received a report from Rhiannon Mort and a presentation from Steer Davies Gleave, the purpose of which was to make the Board aware of the progress which has been made in developing the Business Case for Phase 1 of investment at Harlow Enterprise Zone (the Project) and to endorse the completion of specific investment activities at the Enterprise Zone, as detailed in section 6 of the report, in advance of the Project having completed the Independent Technical Evaluator (ITE) process.

Once a robust Business Case has been produced, which has successfully completed the ITE process, recommendations will be made to the Board on the Phase 1 Project’s value for money, for the Board to consider the approval of the Phase 1 Project.

The Board were advised that the risk in connection with the business rates lies with Harlow Council and not SELEP.

Resolved

To Endorse the completion of specific investment activities at Harlow Enterprise Zone, as set out in section 6 of the report, in advance of the Business Case being developed for the Phase 1 Project.


10

The Board received a report and presentation from Rhiannon Mort providing an update on the latest position of the Local Growth Fund (LGF) Capital Programme, as part of SELEP’s Growth Deal with Government.

Resolved

1.To Note the updated LGF spend forecast for 2017/18
2 To Note the project delivery and risk assessment
3 To Approve the acceleration of LGF spend in 2017/18 for Technical and Professional Skills Centre at Stansted Airport by £600,000
4 To Approve the updated spend profile for Basildon Integrated Transport Package, as set out in Table 4 of the report
5 To Approve the increase in LGF spend in 2017/18 for A28 Sturry Link Road by £43,000.
6 To Approve the increase in LGF spend in 2017/18 for Thurrock Cycle Network by £15,000.

 

 

11

The Board received a report from Rhiannon Mort providing an update on the latest position of the Growing Places Fund (GPF) Capital Programme.

The Board were advised that an amendment was required to the Report in that reference to the Discovery Park project in 3.5 of the report should be removed and replaced with the Live Margate project.

With regards to paragraph 3.6 of the report, this should be removed and replaced with the following wording:


“A delay was experienced in drawing-down the GPF funding for the Discovery Park due to the change of ownership at the Enterprise Zone since the GPF allocation was agreed. The GPF loan is still sought to support the development of the Enterprise Zone and is expected to deliver outcomes which are aligned with the original GPF bid. Recent email correspondence from Kent County Council indicates that its Section 151 Officer is due to sign the credit agreement within the next 5-10 days, and this will then be sent to Essex County Council’s legal department. Hence, this credit agreement is on course to be completed imminently.”

With regards to Chatham Waterfront, Councillor Jarrett advised the Board that full planning permission had now been received.

 

Resolved

1. To Note the updated position on the Growing Places Fund programme

2.To Approve the amended Growing Places Fund loan repayment schedule for Chatham Waterfront

12

The Board received a report from Suzanne Bennett, the purpose of which was to inform the the Board of the provisional final position of the South East LEP revenue spending for financial year ended 31st March 2017. Members were advised that the report title should refer to 2016-17 not 2017-18.This position is provisional as the accounts will be subjected to external audit scrutiny and may be changed. The spending in year was less than the received income and as a result a request for approval for a contribution to the general reserve is made.

Resolved

1. To Approve the final provisional outturn for the all South East LEP revenue budgets for 2016/17 at Tables 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the report, and

2. To Approve the contribution of £132,000 to reserves

13

The Board received a report from Suzanne Bennett, the purpose of which was to inform the the Board of specific revenue grants available for utilisation in financial year 2017/18 and to request the Board’s approval for the setting of budgets for each grant.

Resolved

1. To Approve the budgets and grant drawdowns as detailed in tables 1 through 7 in the report.

2. To Note the grants available and the restrictions to those grants where applicable.

14 Date of Next Meeting

To note that the next meeting of the Board will be held on Friday 22nd September.

14

The Board noted that the next meeting will take place on Friday 22 September 2017.

 

There being no further urgent business the meeting closed at 11.17 am.

 

15 Urgent Business
To consider any matter which in the opinion of the Chairman should be considered in public by reason of special circumstances (to be specified) as a matter of urgency.
15

With the agreement of the Chairman, Mr McLennan, a member of the public, asked the following question

“Where a County Council or Unitary Authority has been awarded Government Local Growth Funds for a project and their application is subsequently found to be fraudulent, misleading and incorrect. What legal jurisdiction does the South East Local Enterprise Partnership Board have to withdraw the award and recover government funds”.

The following response was given:

"The Government release the Local Growth Fund to SELEP under specific conditions set out in a Grant Determination Letter. This includes a condition that the LGF may only be used for purposes that a capital receipt may be used for in accordance with the regulations under section 11 of the Local Government Act 2003.

If the SELEP fails to comply with any of the conditions and requirements set out within the Grant Determination Letter the Minister of State may:

a) Reduce, suspend or withhold grant; or

b) By notification in writing to the authority, require the repayment of the whole or any part of the grant.

The LGF is released to the Accountable Body, who are accountable for ensuring that the conditions and requirements of all funding received from Government are adhered too. Accordingly, these conditions and requirements are reflected in the Agreements between the Accountable Body and each partner authority. These Agreements transfer the responsibility for ensuring that the funding is spent in in accordance with the Grant Determination Letter to the partner authority, and requires the respective s.151 officer to provide confirmation to the Accountable Body that this is the case. The repayment provisions are also reflected within these agreements.

The SELEP governance ensures that all projects are approved by the Accountability Board in the first instance, supported by a robust business case, which has been independently evaluated. Any changes to a project, which fall within SELEP’s definition of project Change, must be approved by the Board. A further independent review of an updated Project Business Case will be undertaken if there is a Change to the project which may impact on the outcome of the projects Value for Money assessment. Project changes include, but are not limited to, variations to a projects scope, cost, outputs or outcomes. The full definition of Project Change is provided in paragraph 5.11 of the SELEP Assurance Framework. The Council must repay all or part of the funding received with respect to a Project Allocation if the Board so requires where the Council abandons the Project; a Project is Changed and the Board declines to agree the Change; or the Project can no longer meet the Grant Conditions.

Each project is approved in full by the Accountability Board, however, the actual funding is released quarterly in advance, in line with the projects specific planned spend profile. As a result should there be any issue arising on any of the projects, this can be addressed and resolved at an at an early opportunity, and at a time when limited funding has been released

The SELEP are required to report to the Government on its management of the LGF, and it remains the government’s decision on whether to activate the repayment mechanisms.

Exempt Items
16 Urgent Exempt Business
To consider in private any other matter which in the opinion of the Chairman should be considered by reason of special circumstances (to be specified) as a matter of urgency.

Meeting Documents

Members

Declarations of Interests

Attendees

Geoff Miles

Cllr David Finch

Chairman

Essex County Council

Cllr Mark Dance

Kent County Council

Cllr Alan Jarrett

Medway Council

Cllr Rupert Simmons  

East Sussex County Council

Cllr John Lamb Southend Borough Council

Angela O’Donoghue

FE & Skills

Myroulla West

Higher Education representative

 

ALSO PRESENT        Having signed the attendance book

Amy Beckett SELEP
Suzanne Bennett Essex County Council
Steven Bishop Steer Davies Gleave
Chris Burr Southend  Borough Council
Jake Cartmell Steer Davies Gleave 
Kim Cole Essex County Council
Richard Dawson East Sussex County Council 
Stephen Gasche Kent County Council
Thomas Kozlowski. Medway Council
Stephanie Mitchener   Essex County Council
Rhiannon Mort SELEP
Lorna Norris Essex County Council
Sarah Nurden Kent and Medway Economic Partnership
Andrew Osborne Ashford Borough Council 
Lisa Siggins Essex County Council
William McLennan Member of the Public