Venue: Woodhatch Place, Reigate, Surrey
Contact: Amelia Christopher Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Item 5: Leader’s Statement (Budget) - video link "No One Left Behind": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9pboD-sTPU
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
The Chair to report apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received fromBernie Muir.
Members who attended remotely and had no voting rights were Jeffrey Gray, Rebecca Jennings-Evans and Buddhi Weerasinghe.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 12 October 2021.
The minutes of the meeting of the County Council held on 12 October 2021 were submitted, confirmed and signed.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
All Members present are required to declare, at this point in the meeting or as soon as possible thereafter
(i) Any disclosable pecuniary interests and / or
(ii) Other interests arising under the Code of Conduct in respect of any item(s) of business being considered at this meeting
· Members are reminded that they must not participate in any item where they have a disclosable pecuniary interest
· As well as an interest of the Member, this includes any interest, of which the Member is aware, that relates to the Member’s spouse or civil partner (or any person with whom the Member is living as a spouse or civil partner)
Regarding item 5: 2022/23 Final Budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy to 2026/27:
Rachael Lake declared a non-pecuniary interest noting that her son was an employee of Surrey County Council (the Council); and that her daughter had in the past and may in the future work with an organisation that works with the Council.
Keith Witham declared a non-pecuniary interest noting that his stepdaughter was an employee of the Council in the Finance department.
Nick Darby declared a non-pecuniary interest noting that his daughter was an employee of the Council.
John O’Reilly declared a non-pecuniary interest noting that his father received social care support from the Council.
Tim Oliver declared a non-pecuniary interest regarding item 12: Appointment of Independent Member to the Audit and Governance Committee, noting that he was involved in Terry Price’s appointment to a similar position at Elmbridge Borough Council and noted that he was the Chair of trustees at Esher Sixth Form College and Terry Price was the Chair of the member board.
Amanda Boote arrived at 10.09 am
Welcome everyone to today’s Council meeting – our first formal meeting of 2022. It is wonderful to be back here in our fantastic Council Chamber and see you all in person.
Queens New Year Honours
Well done and a huge thank you to all Surrey residents who were honoured in the Queen’s New Year Honours. Exceptional work has been carried out across a wide range of sectors that has really made an incredible difference to so many peoples’ lives.
Please find the list of Surrey New Year Honours 2022 attached to the agenda (Annex 1). I encourage you all to have a look.
Holocaust Memorial Day 2022
Sadly, this year we were again unable to gather together to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day and remember all those who perished so horrifically at the hands of Nazi Germany.
In place of our annual commemoration service, a message from me was uploaded to our Surrey web pages, along with information about the Holocaust and links to our Surrey History Centre exhibition.
When you can, please do take a moment to pause and reflect on the atrocities. I very much hope we can all come together in person next year to pay homage to those who suffered so needlessly and so senselessly.
Platinum Jubilee – Queen’s Green Canopy
A big thank you to all of you who took a tree away with you from our last ‘in person’ Council meeting in October, as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative during her Platinum Jubilee year. I hope you have managed to plant your trees and that they are all flourishing.
Please may I ask you to send a photograph of your tree to my office – email@example.com. We are creating a montage of all our Queen’s Green Canopy trees to put on display in the Reception at Woodhatch Place. Please make sure your tree is included!
There are a handful of trees still available if you wish to take one away with you after the meeting. They will be placed just outside the door to the car park and will be given on a first come, first served basis.
Finally, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the fantastic people of this Council as they continue to do their utmost to serve and protect the residents of our county. A sincere ‘thank you’ to all our staff for the immeasurable difference you are making to so many lives. Please do keep it up!
Although 2022 has got off to a somewhat bumpy start, things are certainly looking up with restrictions lifting and I think we can all start to feel very positively about the future. I really hope 2022 is a brighter and smoother year for us all.
The Chair noted:
· That her full announcements could be found in the Council agenda front sheet alongside the Queen’s Surrey New Year Honours 2022 list and she congratulated all those Surrey residents listed.
Council is asked to approve the 2022/23 Final Budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy to 2026/27.
There will be an opportunity for Members to ask questions and/or make comments.
Before presenting the report and making his statement, the Leader noted that the ‘No One Left Behind’ video - (accessible using this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9pboD-sTPU) - set out the context of the budget and demonstrated the work underway across the county to meet the Council’s guiding principle. He noted that the video had received positive feedback and he credited the work of an apprentice at the Council, for their work in producing it.
The Leader presented the 2022/23 Final Budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy to 2026/27 and made a statement in support of the proposed budget. A copy of the Leader’s statement is attached as Appendix A.
Each of the Minority Group Leaders (Nick Darby, Will Forster, Robert Evans and Jonathan Essex) were invited to speak on the budget proposals.
Key points made by Nick Darby were that:
· Noted the context of the budget which called for a 4.99% Council Tax increase, despite inflation moving towards 7%, increasing energy costs and the National Insurance increase.
· Stressed that additional Council Tax bands were needed so those with high value properties pay more, the Council must press for a change in legislation so it could address poverty and deprivation.
· Noted that the Council needed efficiencies led through the Twin Track approach because it had been inefficient in the past and working efficiently going forward and putting residents first was what was needed.
· Noted the contrast between the Council’s ambitious projects to ensure that no one is left behind and the reality of delivering that ambition, noting the following examples.
· The new IT system to cover payroll and HR, to which the Resources and Performance Select Committee in October 2020 recommended that assurances be put in place to monitor risks and progress, since then the system had faced delays and cost the taxpayer an extra £3.2 million which could have been avoided with robust programme management.
· The Agile Office Programme (AOP) had seen its estimated annual cost savings reduce from £3 million to £2.2 million a year - he sought greater collaboration on its progress.
· The Council’s existing offices were not fit for purpose with £39 million needed in repair work, of that £15 million was for Quadrant Court.
· The Council had a deliberate policy on the neglect of its property assets, whilst he welcomed the intended £2 million spend on repairs on Surrey’s eight children’s homes, the £250,000 cost per home was due to years of neglect.
· The Council must take immediate action to prioritise its outstanding repair work across its properties, to stop the neglect and further costs to residents.
· Welcomed the intended investment in new extra care homes, supported living homes, children's homes and extra housing for those with autism, but urged that those projects must be managed properly and collaboratively.
· Welcomed the additional funding for mental health but was concerned that it was announced last-minute with little planning.
· Noted concern in the Council’s borrowing costs which must be managed efficiently, whilst the costs would be used to fund flood ... view the full minutes text for item 5/22
1. Council is asked to note the updated Cabinet Portfolios (Annexes 1 and 2).
2. Council to note Rebecca Paul’s appointment by the Leader as the Deputy Cabinet Member for Levelling Up on 30 November 2021.
3. As a result of the above, David Harmer to be appointed as a Select Committee Task Group Lead (Vice-Chair) to the Resources and Performance Select Committee.
4. Alison Todd (née Griffiths) to be appointed as Vice-Chair of Spelthorne Joint Committee.
The Leader introduced the report, highlighting that Kevin Deanus had been appointed as the Cabinet Member for Community Protection and Rebecca Paul had been appointed as the Deputy Cabinet Member for Levelling Up. He noted that in addition to the updated Cabinet Portfolios he had appointed Jordan Beech as the Deputy Cabinet Member for Highways.
1. That Council noted the updated Cabinet Portfolios (Annexes 1 and 2).
2. That Council noted Rebecca Paul’s appointment by the Leader as the Deputy Cabinet Member for Levelling Up on 30 November 2021.
3. That as a result of the above, David Harmer was appointed as a Select Committee Task Group Lead (Vice-Chair) to the Resources and Performance Select Committee.
4. That Alison Todd (née Griffiths) was appointed as Vice-Chair of Spelthorne Joint Committee.
5. That Council noted Jordan Beech’s appointment by the Leader as the Deputy Cabinet Member for Highways.
Council is asked to formally ratify the outcome of the debate on Original Motions from the informal remote meeting of the Council on 18 January 2022.
The minutes from the informal remote Council meeting held on 18 January 2022 can be found at Annex A and Council is asked to agree that these are a true record of the informal meeting.
Items 9 to 16 were taken before items 7 and 8.
The Chair introduced the report and referring to the minutes of the Council - Informal meeting held on 18 January 2022 she highlighted that Jonathan Essex had raised a typing error on page 30 of the Supplementary Agenda (Items 2 and 4) concerning the Deputy Cabinet Member for Children and Lifelong Learning’s Cabinet Member Briefing under item 2: Members’ Question Time, which would be noted in the minutes for this item (with additional words in bold/underlined and deletions crossed through):
“30th November 20
1. That the County Council approved the minutes (Annex A) as a true record of the informal remote County Council meeting held on 18 January 2022.
2. That the County Council formally approved the following outcomes from the debate on Original motions held at the informal remote Council meeting on 18 January 2022:
i. Motion 4(i) as amended by Matt Furniss was supported and approved.
ii. Motion 4(ii) standing in the name of Catherine Baart was lost.
iii. Motion 4(iii) standing in the name of Catherine Powell was withdrawn.
iv. Motion 4(iv) standing in the name of Bernie Muir was supported and approved.
v. Motion 4(v) standing in the name of Rebecca Paul was supported and approved.
That Council approve the decision to opt into the Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) sector-led option for the appointment of external auditors to principal local government and police bodies for five financial years from 1 April 2023.
The Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee introduced the report and noted that at its meeting on 29 November 2021 the Audit and Governance Committee agreed that the Council should opt into the “appointing person” national auditor appointment arrangements, established by the Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) for the appointment of external auditors to the Council for a five-year period from 2023/24.
That the Council approved the decision to opt into the PSAA sector-led option for the appointment of external auditors to principal local government and police bodies for five financial years from 1 April 2023.
That Council notes that the Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy and Framework has been reviewed and agreed by the Audit and Governance Committee on 29 November 2021 and that the Constitution would be updated with the new strategy.
The Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee introduced the report and noted that at its meeting on 29 November 2021 the Audit and Governance Committee agreed the latest version of the Antifraud and Corruption Strategy and Framework 2021-2024, which aligned its pillars to the local government Fighting Fraud and Corruption strategy (2020) which included two additional areas of activity of ‘Govern’ and ‘Protect’.
That the Council noted that the Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy and Framework had been reviewed and agreed by the Audit and Governance Committee on 29 November 2021 and that the Constitution would be updated with the new strategy.
Council is asked to ratify the appointment of the Independent Member to the Audit and Governance Committee for a period of 4 years as detailed in the report.
The Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee introduced the report and referred Members to the October 2021 Council report where the Council agreed to the appointment of an Independent Member to the Audit and Governance Committee. He noted that following an extensive recruitment process, the recruitment panel thought that Terry Price was well-qualified and unanimously agreed to offer him the role; to which he had accepted.
That the Council agreed to the appointment of Terry Price as the Independent Member of the Audit and Governance Committee for a period of 4 years.
Council is asked to review the Scrutiny Annual Report 2020/21 as presented in the accompanying paper (Annex 1) offering feedback and comments as appropriate.
The Chair of the Select Committee Chairs & Vice-Chairs’ Group introduced the report:
· Noted that great progress had been made in the Council’s scrutiny function for example in scrutinising the budget and that scrutiny was taken more seriously.
· Praised Democratic Services officers for their support.
· Noted that Members were undertaking pre-meetings to prepare their questioning.
· Was pleased that more opposition Members were involved as Chairs and Vice-Chairs and was pleased to work alongside the Vice-Chair of the Group.
· Noted that whilst the select committees were doing more and better scrutiny, they needed to make more recommendations rather than noting reports.
· Noted that more needed to be done to encourage public involvement in scrutiny.
· Welcomed Member feedback.
The Vice-Chair of the Group and the Chair of the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee noted that:
· Endorsed the above comments and noted the important role played by backbench Members in the scrutiny function.
· Highlighted that a second report would be produced in May and would outline the work of each of the four select committees.
· Noted that going forward, each of the select committees’ Chairs and Vice-Chairs would report to the Council and be held accountable by Members.
· Welcomed the cross-party membership and chairmanship of the select committees.
· Welcomed the cooperation from the Cabinet and the Leader; but implored the Executive to ensure that reports are provided to select committees in a timely manner so it could undertake its role effectively.
Members made the following comments:
· The Chair welcomed the debate at yesterday’s Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee and encouraged Members to watch meetings of the select committees.
· Emphasised that scrutiny was an essential function of the Council and for it to be undertaken effectively Members needed to be well-informed.
· Noted that the report showed how scrutiny had continued to improve, noting the excellent induction programme and detailed reports from officers.
· Highlighted the work of the No Wrong Door Task Group which looked at a different way of delivering services for children and young adults aged between 12-25 years old who were either in care or on the edge of care and that witness testimonies were a powerful driver in deciding on the right approach.
· Noted that there was room for more progress and it was vital to implement the recommendations by being even more outward looking and having more engagement with stakeholders.
That Members noted the progress made by the Council’s scrutiny function, the examples of good practice and support the next areas of improvement identified by the report.
To review the Member Development Strategy and agree suggested changes from the Member Development Steering Group.
The Chair of the Member Development Steering Group (MDSG) introduced the report:
· Thanked officers for their work despites the challenges of the pandemic, he noted the induction process for new Members last year, the Member Development Sessions every Monday and the Members' Portal which he encouraged Members to actively engage in.
· Noted the positive cross-party work of the MDSG, the report produced included the move to Woodhatch Place and a more agile way of working through IT.
· Invited new ways of thinking on Member development going forward, noting that the MDSG were utilising internal resources and external help such as from the Local Government Association.
· Noted that going forward the review would be received by Council biannually.
The Chair endorsed the above comments and she welcomed the programme of Member seminars and workshops which had been excellent. She thanked the officers involved and also as a member of the MDSG, she welcomed the openness of the cross-party discussions with Members.
That the revised Member Development Strategy and its appendices were approved by County Council.
To receive the report of the meetings of the Cabinet held on 26 October 2021, 30 November 2021, 21 December 2021 and 25 January 2022.
The Leader presented the report of the Cabinet meetings held on 26 October 2021, 30 November 2021, 21 December 2021 and 25 January 2022.
Recommendations on Policy Framework Documents:
30 November 2021:
A. Coordinated Admissions Scheme for September 2023
1. That Council noted that due to the postponement of the 14 December Council meeting and the deadline for publishing the coordinated admissions scheme, this item was approved by the Chief Executive in consultation with the Chair of Council, the Monitoring Officer and the Section 151 Officer under Standing Order 54.
25 January 2022:
B. 2022/23 Final Budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy to 2026/27 [Agenda Item 5 on the agenda]
That the recommendations regarding this item had already been approved under item 5.
C. Admission Arrangements for Surrey’s Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools for September 2023
That the County Council agreed:
1. That priority for children who have the school as their ‘nearest school’ is removed from the admission criteria for Hurst Park Primary School, Langshott Primary School, Meath Green Infant School, Tillingbourne Junior School and Wallace Fields Junior School for 2023 admission, as indicated in Enclosure 1.
2. That a catchment area is introduced for Walton on the Hill Primary School for 2023 admission to replace ‘nearest school’, as set out in Enclosure 1 and Appendix 5.
3. That a nodal point to measure home to school distance is introduced for Reigate Priory School for 2023 admission, as set out in Section 8 of Enclosure 1.
4. That the Published Admission Number for Year 3 at West Ashtead Primary School is reduced from 30 to 2 for 2023 admission, as set out in Appendix 1 of Enclosure 1.
5. That a Published Admission Number of 4 is introduced for admission to Year 3 at Leatherhead Trinity Primary School for 2023 admission, as set out in Appendix 1 of Enclosure 1.
6. That a Published Admission Number of 2 is introduced for admission to Year 3 at Felbridge Primary School for 2023 admission, as set out in Appendix 1 of Enclosure 1.
7. That priority is given to children of a member of staff for entry to a nursery school for 2023 admission as set out in Section 20 of Enclosure 1.
8. That a supplementary information form is introduced for families applying on the basis of exceptional social/medical need for 2023 admission, as set out in Appendix 6 of Enclosure 1.
9. That the Published Admission Numbers (PANs) for September 2023 for all other community and voluntary controlled schools are determined as they are set out in Appendix 1 to Enclosure 1.
10. That the aspects of Surrey’s admission arrangements for community and voluntary controlled schools for September 2023 for which no change has been consulted on, are agreed as set out in Enclosure 1 and its appendices.
(as set out in the Cabinet paper from 25 January 2022)
D. No One Left Behind: Child Poverty in Surrey
That County Council:
1. Noted the data research ... view the full minutes text for item 13/22
Any matters within the minutes of the Cabinet’s meetings, and not otherwise brought to the Council’s attention in the Cabinet’s report, may be the subject of questions and statements by Members upon notice being given to Democratic Services by 12 noon on Monday 7 February 2022.
No notification had been received by the deadline from Members wishing to raise a question or make a statement on any matters in the minutes.
The Leader of the Council or the appropriate Member of the Cabinet or the Chairman of a Committee to answer any questions on any matter relating to the powers and duties of the County Council, or which affects the county.
(Note: Notice of questions in respect of the above item on the agenda must be given in writing, preferably by e-mail, to Democratic Services by 12 noon on Wednesday 2 February 2022).
Items 7 and 8 were after items 9 to 16
Notice of twenty questions had been received.
The questions and replies were published in the supplementary agenda on 7 February 2022. A number of supplementary questions were asked and a summary of the main points is set out below.
(Q3)Robert Evans asked the Cabinet Member for Environment whether she was aware that most scientists agree that bees across Surrey and nationally were dying for a number of reasons including habit destruction and pesticides; and asked whether she would contact Surrey’s eleven MPs to stop the use of pesticides which were harmful to bees.
The Chair asked the Cabinet Member to confirm whether there would be beehives at Woodhatch Place.
In response, the Cabinet Member for Environment explained that her day job was in conservation and biodiversity, she was happy to contact Surrey’s eleven MPs and national government political parties to ensure that they were aware of Surrey’s pollinator strategy and to reconsider the use of harmful pesticides to bees. She noted that she did not know the circumstances around the emergency use of the pesticide in January 2022, which she noted should be used as infrequently as possible.
The Cabinet Member responded that she was supportive of the above proposal of having beehives at Woodhatch Place as part of the Council’s pollinator strategy.
(Q4) Jonathan Essex had no supplementary question.
Ernest Mallett MBE asked the Leader for a further explanation as to why the removal of the highways functions from Local and Joint Committees through new engagement methods would be better than the existing decision-making structure, as Local and Joint Committees currently engaged closely with residents. He asked whether the reason for the removal of the highways functions was that it was preferable to remove top-level decisions away from Local and Joint Committees.
John Beckett asked why none of the Local and Joint Committees’ chairmen or vice-chairmen were involved in the decision to remove the highways functions and sought assurance that they would be involved in decision-making processes going forward.
In response, the Leader noted that the matter was discussed at the recent meeting of the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee and that he welcomed any representations on the matter at the February meeting of the Cabinet.
(Q5) Catherine Baartasked the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources whether she saw a role for residents to contribute to the Twin Track approach.
In response, the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources explained that the point of the Twin Track approach was to provide time to develop an approach to savings and efficiencies for the future. Projects and programmes would be scrutinised and where necessary there would be consultation with residents.
(Q7) Angela Goodwin asked the Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure whether he would provide a breakdown of how the additional £3 million in funding for road safety would be spent and where.
Jonathan Essex highlighted that the written response noted ... view the full minutes text for item 15/22
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
Any Member may make a statement at the meeting on a local issue of current or future concern.
(Note: Notice of statements must be given in writing, preferably by e-mail, to Democratic Services by 12 noon on Monday 7 February 2022).
David Lewis (Cobham) made a statement on the launch of the second Chatterbus which boosted the service being provided to school pupils living in Oxshott and Stoke D'Abernon and helped the Council meet its obligations for free school transport. The first Chatterbus launched in 2015 and provided free and concessionary fares for residents and was run on a voluntary basis. He welcomed the support by the Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure for the funding of a future replacement electric bus next year and noted a testimony from a Chatterbus driver.
Trefor Hogg (Camberley East) made a statement on the volunteers of the Old Dean community who came together in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic and despite being a deprived area, volunteers delivered food parcels and provided local support to residents. That community support continued into June with more ventures such as a free food stall, sports kits for children in poverty and a dementia café. He thanked all those volunteers for their work and time given.
The Chair noted her thanks to those volunteers.