Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 6 February 2018 6.30 pm

Venue: Meeting Room 1, 135 Eastern Avenue, Milton Park, Milton, OX14 4SB

Contact: Susan Harbour, Democratic Services Team Leader  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

35.

Declarations of interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting. 

 

Minutes:

None.

 

36.

Urgent business and chairman's announcements

To receive notification of any matters which the chairman determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chairman. 

Minutes:

The chairman reminded the committee to retain the budget papers for full council, but to ensure that they were stored confidentially.

37.

Public participation

To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak. 

Minutes:

None.

38.

Work schedule and dates for all South and Vale scrutiny meetings pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To review the attached scrutiny work schedule. Please note, although the dates are confirmed, the items under consideration are subject to being withdrawn, added to or rearranged without further notice.

 

Minutes:

The committee considered the work schedule. It was agreed to delay the meeting on 8 March to the 27 March in order to consider the paper on the Berinsfield redevelopment.

 

39.

Revenue Budget 2018-19 and Capital Programme report 15 Feb 2018 pdf icon PDF 208 KB

To receive the report of the head of finance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jane Murphy, the Cabinet member for finance; William Jacobs, Section 151 Officer and head of finance; Simon Hewings, strategic finance manager and Richard Spraggett, chief accountant (Capita) were in attendance at the meeting to present the paper to the committee and to respond to questions.

 

The budget would be going to Cabinet for consideration on Monday 12 February, and on to Full Council for approval on Thursday 15 February. Scrutiny Committee were asked to consider the paper and the recommendations before them.

 

The Cabinet member for finance gave her thanks to the budget working group for their hard work and input, including the constructive input from the opposition. The leader of the opposition also gave positive feedback from the working group and his thanks for the opportunity for involvement at the development stage of the budget.

 

The medium term financial plan shows the council continuing to use money from reserves in order to balance the budget over this period and this was a cause of concern to some members of the committee. The head of finance explained that the council was required to produce a balanced budget for the next year, which it had done, and the purpose of the medium term financial plan was to offer a projection of what would happen over the period of the plan if the council did not take steps to address the current issues.

 

In the last few years, government changes to council funding streams, such as the abolition of the revenue support grant and the introduction of the New Homes Bonus and  business rates retention scheme, had made local authority funding more difficult to predict as rates of house building and business rate growth were not on a steady trajectory. In addition, the government is able to change the schemes and therefore the amount of local authority funding.

 

The budget working group would be looking at an action plan to address the projected shortfalls in funding, but the committee were reminded that the government had previously encouraged councils to use reserves rather than increase council tax.  Now that the cap on council tax increases had been raised to allow councils to raise additional funds through this route.

 

Members of the committee expressed enthusiasm that the council could be creative and entrepreneurial with its reserves in order to generate additional funding streams.

 

The committee asked a number of questions of clarification of the officers which were responded to.

 

The Cabinet member agreed to circulate copies of correspondence with Cabinet members about the Foxhall Manor Park pumping station.

 

The committee went into confidential session and excluded members of the public and partner organisations.

 

 

The Scrutiny Committee fully supported the following recommendations and did not add further to them:

 

1.     That cabinet agrees to maintain car park fees and charges at current levels.

2.     That cabinet recommends to council that it:

a.      sets the revenue budget for 2018/19 as set out in appendix A.1 to this report;

b.      approves the capital programme for 2018/19  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.

40.

Exclusion of the public

To consider whether to exclude members of the press and public from the meeting for the following item of business under Part 1 of Schedule 12A Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 and as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006 on the grounds that:

(i)        it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1-7 Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, and

(ii)       the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. 

 

Minutes:

 

The public were excluded by virtue of paragraph(s) 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, Paragraph 3

·           Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

 

41.

Revenue Budget 2018-19 and Capital Programme report 15 Feb 2018

To receive the exempt appendices to the head of finance’s report.

Minutes:

The committee discussed the confidential aspects of the Revenue Budget and Capital Programme.