Agenda item


To consider the following Part I Decisions of the Executive taken on 7 February 2024:


2.         Minutes – 17 January 2024

3.         Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Select Committees

4.         Stevenage Works Skills Framework – Unlocking Jobs, Skills and Opportunity for Local People

5.         Final General Fund and Council Tax Settings 2024/25

6.         Final Capital Strategy 2023/24 – 2028/29

7.         Annual Treasury Management Strategy Including Prudential Indicators 2024/25

8.         Stevenage Cycle Hire Scheme – Report and Public Consultation Feedback


Notice of Decisions to follow



-          Minutes?? 

-          Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Select Committees?? 

-          Select Committees?? 

-          ?Stevenage Works Skills Framework – Unlocking Jobs, Skills, and Opportunity for Local People?? 

-          ?Final General Fund and Council Tax Settings 2024/25?? 

-          Final Capital Strategy 2023/24 – 2028/29?? 

-          Annual Treasury Management Strategy Including Prudential Indicators 2024/25?? 

-          Stevenage Cycle Hire Scheme – Report and Public Consultation Feedback? 


Stevenage Works Skills Framework – Unlocking Jobs, Skills, and Opportunity for Local People? 


Officers provided a presentation on the ‘Stevenage Works Skills Framework’, and key points made by the Executive. Officers explained since Stevenage Works has been formed it has:

·         Supported over 500 people to attend training courses.

·         Put in place over 50 apprenticeships

·         Secured over £50,000 in investment into the local community in Stevenage.


-          Members queried whether the Officers could clarify the ambition of the Stevenage Works. The Officer explained the skills framework, maximising resources, ongoing momentum, and activity to ensure Stevenage residents and given every opportunity to take advantage of the excellent opportunity. It also has benefits such as practical and experimental opportunities.? 

-          A Member queried if there is a reason Stevenage Works is not partnered with sixth form centres of the town and questioned how many young people attended Generation Stevenage. It was explained the council has also been promoting apprenticeships through videos and case study’s (HR led), Officers are also establishing the links and reaching out to secondary schools as part of the Skills Framework, and two secondary schools are directly engaged in two pilot projects.  Officers confirmed over 800 people that attended Generation Stevenage.? 

-          A Member stated the presentation emphasisedSTEM throughout the document, potentially creating a hierarchy in schools, as it could seem as more important than other subjects. Officers agreed STEM has been spoken about in greater detail given the initial partnership funding from Mission 44 prioritised opening opportunities in that sector, and as there is significant growth in opportunities in STEM sectors.  Officers reiterated that STEM is not seen as more important than other sectors, with construction healthcare, public services, culture, and heritage and beyond.

-          Members questioned whether the council are monitoring women in STEM going forward and what are the barriers within the area. It was explained Mission 44 is specifically focused on not just focusing on getting young people on board but people from ethnic minority backgrounds, and there would also be worked to help expand routes for women and girls.  As set out in the Framework, a challenge is that there needs to be better connection between employers, providers, schools, and the community, to help overcome barriers, and to access current opportunities some local people do not know who to get in contact with, and via the Framework, Officers are looking to tailor information and access to a local level.? 

-          Councillors believed there was a confidence issue with young people and believed the council should try encouraging confidence in Stevenage’s younger generation. This could be due to not being confident enough to apply for jobs or routes. It was explained they believe mentoring from year 8 could give the confidence needed. The Officer explained the pilot project was aimed for year 9s which allows them to spend a Monday afternoon in the STEM centre, this would be beneficial as it would give them much needed experience and boost confidence to try new things.? 

-          ?It was stated this is not a statutory service. Members asked how the Council could carry out this project if funding becomes unavailable. Officers stated the Stevenage Works project has a good level of certainty,as it is part funded from confirmed section 106 funding, alongside funding from Mission 44 and UK Shared Prosperity Funding but may require additional future bids. 


Final General Fund and Council Tax Settings 2024/25? 

The Committee received further information from Officers. It was stated that the Business Rates gains are greater than first calculated and it was recommended that any surplus goes into a reserve. It was believed there could be a high number of Business Rate appeals. It was explained the Police Commissioner and County have set their budgets. The Country will be setting Council Tax

 at 4.99% which equals a 5.4% increase which will be included in the report for Council.  


Members raised queries on the agenda item:? 


-          Councillors queried who are the key partners the Council consults with and do we need to take in consideration what they raise, and if it is a statutory requirement. It was explained it is general consultation, but also includes specific engagement with the Police and Crime Commissioner and Hertfordshire County Council which Stevenage Council must do. It is good practice to consult broadly to help ensure there is support for the budget package. 

-          Councillors queried how the consultation is undertaken, with Officers confirming the steps taken with the Police and Hertfordshire County Council, and the consultation with service users if changes are planned. Officers also gave the example in relation to Council Tax, that if a Council wishes to raise Council Tax over the Statutory limit of2.99%, would require a referendum which would cost over £50,000, equivalent to 1% Council Tax increase. 


Final Capital Strategy 2023/24 – 2028/29:? 

This remained unchanged and fixed but are planning on spending £88 million, a significant proportion of which relates to regeneration.


Annual Treasury Management Strategy Including Prudential Indicators 2024/25: 


It was explained up to December 2023 there had been no breaches.? 



Final General Fund and Council Tax Setting: 


A Member raised a query around the Equalities Impact Assessment for the report that the Council had taken a simplistic approach to grouping all White Other Groups' together. The Member stated that by doing this the Council integrated all possible categories into one statisticalgroup, and it should be separated out into smaller groups. The Strategic Director (Chief Finance Officer) stated that the Member had received a full written response to this issue before explaining the rationale for why the White Other Group was being used currently and a more nuanced category would be available in future reports. The Strategic Director (Chief Finance Officer) agreed to circulate the response to all the Committee.? 


Stevenage Cycle HireScheme – Report and Public Consultation Feedback:? 


The Assistant Director, Planning Policy briefly outlined what the scheme would provide:? 

-          The first partof the report is the overview of the strategic approach towards the cycle hire.? 

-          The Officer explained they would like to bring it forward to another meeting of the Environment and Economy Select Committee to see how it is working once it is up and running. 

-          A Councillor queried whether there has been any thought of provision for cycle repair facilities, had Stevenage Council investigated this. An Officer stated that it is not directly part of the cycle hire scheme, but Officers had been looking into the approach of repairs and how cycling can be promoted and supported is part of the wider work with the scheme.? 


Supporting documents: