Overview & Scrutiny Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 7th September, 2017
Time:
7.30 pm
Place:
New Council Chamber, Town Hall, Reigate
 

Attendance Details

Present:
D. Allcard, M.S. Blacker, J.A. Clarke, R.W. Coad, J.C.St.A. Essex, K. Foreman, Dr. Z. Grant-Duff, N.D. Harrison, S.A. Kulka, R.S. Mantle, S. Parnall, D.T. Powell, Mrs. D.A. Ross-Tomlin, B.A. Stead, J.M. Stephenson, Substitute, Mrs R.H. Absalom, Mrs J. S. Bray, M.A. Brunt, J.M. Ellacott, R. Harper, N. Harris, A.C.J. Horwood, D.G. Jackson, J. Paul, M.J. Selby, Ms B.J. Thomson, B.J. Truscott, Mrs. R.S. Turner, S.T. Walsh, C.T.H. Whinney
Also Present:
Councillor T. Schofield
Min NoDescriptionResolution
Part I
1 MINUTES

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 13 June 2017 be approved as a correct record, with the following addition to the discussion of Item 8:


‘A report would be provided to the Committee at a forthcoming meeting on services provided by the Council which support dementia sufferers.’
 

2 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

Committee Members: Councillor R. Mantle (substituted by Councillor J. Ellacott)


Other Members: None
 

3 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

None

4 PORTFOLIO HOLDER BRIEFING

The committee received a presentation from Councillor T. Schofield, Executive Member for Finance, which outlined the Council’s financial considerations, actions and processes. This included notes on the Council’s financial planning, annual budget setting, council tax setting, and the community infrastructure levy. An overview of the Council’s objective and challenges in each of these areas was provided.


There was one advance question submitted, to which a response was provided.


Questions and comments related to:


• The introduction of new Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) regulations, and their possible impact upon future commercial activities of the Council. An assurance was provided that the Council was aware of the new regulations and that they were not expected to present problems for the Council’s current plans, but that future impact and alternatives would be considered as necessary.


• The implications of Council tax and reserves considerations for the revenue budget setting and scrutiny process. An assurance was provided that scrutiny work on the revenue budget would have access to information to these contextual considerations.


• Cuts to the funding of various services by Surrey County Council (SCC) and their implications for residents of the borough. It was agreed that these cuts, and supporting residents affected by them, were one of the financial challenges faced by the borough, and that they would need to be considered as part of the budget setting process.
 

• Changes to homelessness legislation and their implications for the finances of the Council. This was noted to be under consideration as part of the Council’s budget setting, which would be available for consideration by the Budget Scrutiny Panel (BSP).
 

• The volatility of recycling-related revenue and steps taken to manage this. It was noted that the Council was aware of this factor, and had reserves in place to manage it.
 

• The continued pressure on Council finances following from the removal of the central government grant. The committee was assured that the removal of the grant had been considered in previous years’ budget planning and that appropriate steps were being taken. Whilst the reduction in funding continued to be a financial consideration, plans were in place for services to be protected with significant use of reserves.
 

• Future prospects for Council income relating to business rate retention. The committee was informed that work around this possibility was still at an exploratory stage, and that any related changes would be available for scrutiny before implementation.
 

• The sustainability of funding derived from the New Homes Bonus. The committee was informed that, as the New Home’s Bonus was expected to have a limited duration, it had not been incorporated into revenue calculations, but had been maintained as a reserve.
 

• A concern was raised that proposed use of the New Homes Bonus funding was not taking due consideration of Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) guidance on the expectation for community consultation. It was noted that whilst the funding was not ring-fenced and was permitted to be used flexibly, the Council would suggest that the guidance was given greater prominence in future deliberations on its use.
 

• The longer term continuation of special projects established from capital funding. The committee was assured that where capital funded special projects were to become part of regular Council activities, their funding would be considered as part of the revenue budget calculations.
The Executive Member and Officers were thanked for the presentation.


RESOLVED that the portfolio holder briefing from Cllr T. Schofield, Executive Member for Finance and the advanced question be noted.


 

5 QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE REPORT (Q1 - APRIL TO JUNE 2017)

The Committee received a report that detailed the major variances on performance in relation to the Council's Key Performance Indicators, Revenue Budget Monitoring, Capital Budget Monitoring, Risk Management and Internal Audit.


The detailed performance information had been placed in the e-Members Room. The Committee had not received any advance questions relating to the performance report.


An addendum to the report was circulated prior to the meeting, containing a correction to the Capital Budget Monitoring concerning the Massetts Road Emergency Accommodation Project. This addendum was noted by the Committee.


The Committee discussed the report, with questions and comments made regarding:


• Concern around ongoing adverse variance in Legal Services spending and what plans were in place to address this. Assurances were provided to the Committee that, whilst Legal Services was still undergoing changes, significant improvements had been made in terms of both financial and performance considerations. It was noted that any future adverse spending variances were expected to be smaller.
 

• The nature of the Handy Person Scheme referenced in Capital Budget Monitoring. This was clarified for the Committee.
 

• The impact of SCC cuts to funding on the Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring. This was noted to be in line with the related discussion following the portfolio holder briefing.
 

• Housing Completion Figures. It was suggested that it would be helpful for the Committee to also have access to commencement figures for additional context. It was agreed that these figures would be made available to the Committee, where practical to do so.
 

• The potential future costs of the Massetts Road project. It was noted that there were a number of options available for the site, and that any additional costs would be subject to the usual consideration and scrutiny process.
 

• The options for maintaining the Council’s refuse vehicle fleet, including considerations around replacement and refurbishment of vehicles. Officers thanked Committee members for their contributions and noted that future decisions on the process would go through the usual decision making process.

 

 

RESOLVED that:


(i) The quarterly performance report and addendum be noted;
(ii) The comments of the committee be noted;
(iii) No observations be made to the Executive.
 

6 BUDGET SCRUTINY REVIEW PANEL

The Committee received a report detailing the proposed membership, timetable and scope of the Budget Scrutiny Review Panel during 2017/18.

 

A query was raised regarding the listed timetabling of the Executive consideration of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee report on the 2018/19 Budget, and the approval of the proposed budget by the Executive. It was noted that these dates would be clarified.

 

RESOLVED that:


(i) The membership of the Budget Scrutiny Review Panel and timetable for the preparation of the Budget for 2018/19 be agreed as set out in the report, with clarification to be provided on the noted dates.


(ii) The scope of the Budget Scrutiny Review Panel work during 2017/18 be agreed as set out in the report.


 

7 LOCAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK SCRUTINY REVIEW PANEL

Cllr B. Stead, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee asked the Committee to consider the reconstitution of the Local Development Framework Panel for 2017/18, with the proposed membership of the panel being as follows:

 

• Conservative Party: Cllr Brunt (Chair), Cllr Blacker and Cllr Foreman
• Residents Association: Cllr Selby
• Green Party: Cllr McKenna

 

It was noted that Cllr Foreman had been appointed as the Executive Member for Planning Policy and could therefore no longer serve on the Local Development Framework Panel. It was therefore agreed that an alternative nomination would be provided by the Conservative Group.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

(i) The membership of the Local Development Framework Panel for 2017/18 be agreed as follows:

• Conservative Party: Cllr Brunt (Chair), Cllr Blacker, 1 additional nomination by the Conservative Group.
• Residents Association: Cllr Selby
• Green Party: Cllr McKenna


 

8 EXECUTIVE

It was reported that there were no items arising from the Executive that might be subject to the ‘call-in’ procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules.

9 ANY OTHER URGENT BUSINESS

None.

8.38 p.m