Agenda and minutes

Council - Tuesday, 19 March 2024 10.00 am

Venue: Woodhatch Place, 11 Cockshot Hill, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 8EF

Contact: Amelia Christopher  Email:


No. Item



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    The Chair to report apologies for absence.

    Additional documents:


    Apologies for absence were received from John Beckett, Jordan Beech, Harry Boparai, Fiona Davidson, Jeffrey Gray, Tim Hall, Frank Kelly (remote), Rachael Lake BEM (remote), Cameron McIntosh, George Potter, Buddhi Weerasinghe (remote). 



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    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)

    ·         Members with a significant personal interest may participate in the discussion and vote on that matter unless that interest could be reasonably regarded as prejudicial.

    Additional documents:


    John O’Reilly declared a non-pecuniary interest in item 9 noting that he is a British Petroleum (BP) pensioner and owns shares in that company.


    Liz Bowes declared a non-pecuniary interest in item 9 noting that she is a British Petroleum (BP) pensioner.


    David Lewis (Cobham) declared a non-pecuniary interest in item 9 noting that he is a pensioner in Shell and owns shares in that company.


    Trefor Hogg declared a non-pecuniary interest in item 10 noting that he is a community representative to NHS Frimley.


    Edward Hawkins declared a non-pecuniary interest in item 10 noting that he is a Council appointed foundation governor at Frimley Park Hospital.


    Carla Morson declared a non-pecuniary interest in item 10 noting that a close family member works at Frimley Park Hospital.




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    I am sure that I am not the only one who is pleased to see daffodils in bloom and more daylight. Spring is on its way, a sign of new beginnings, and that is especially the case for Surrey. We will come together next month for our Extraordinary Council Meeting, and I invite you to the garden room following the meeting for tea, coffee and cake. I hope to see you all there.


    Charity Visits

    Since our last meeting, I have been fortunate enough to be out in the county visiting some of Surrey’s charities and recognising the hard work that goes into each of these charitable organisations. In February I visited the Hashim Welfare Hospital, a charity hospital providing the relief of sickness in rural Pakistan, in particular by assisting in the provision and management of a hospital. I also paid a visit to the Grange Centre for people with disabilities. The Grange does a tremendous job, supporting people with disabilities to lead independent and fulfilling lives. I have seen firsthand the incredible difference these charities make in their communities and to Surrey’s residents. I will be continuing to visit charities over the course of the year in line with my theme, ‘celebrating diverse communities’ and I look forward to sharing more of the work taking place in the county with you. 



    On Saturday 24 February I stood at Jubilee Square in Woking to commemorate two years of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Even now, it is still hard to believe that in 2022, the world entered an unprecedented era, irreversibly altering the lives of Ukrainians and countless others across the globe. Over these challenging two years and as we start the third year, the resilience of the Ukrainian people continues to shine through.



    One of the many, enjoyable tasks undertaken in the role as the Chair are grand openings, and this month I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of Heathside School in Walton-on-Thames who were also lucky enough to have His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester in attendance.

    I welcomed residents to Blanchman’s Farm Nature Reserve who, after being granted £119,000 by Your Fund Surrey, installed a trackway around its reserve. Nature reserves have historically been very hard to access for everyone and the previous trackway had become unfit for purpose. The new track has made the reserve completely accessible for people of all abilities and circumstances, just as it should be. It was a privilege to officially open the track and thank every member of the team for all their efforts in bringing the project to life, a very proud moment for the reserve and for the county.


    International Women’s Day

    8 March marked International Women’s Day 2024, and the theme for this year is ‘Invest in women: Accelerate progress’. As a male Chair, I feel I have an even greater duty to ensure woman are celebrated.

    The world is facing many crises, ranging from geopolitical conflicts to soaring poverty levels  ...  view the full agenda text for item 16/24

    Additional documents:


    The Chair:


    ·         Noted that he had the privilege of visiting the Grange Centre in Great Bookham, which supports people with disabilities; noted that it would be a good place for Members to support using their allocations.

    ·         Highlighted the recent Surrey Armed Forces Covenant Conference at Pirbright, noting that the Council works closely with the military and it was interesting to hear speeches from those in the army and those who provide support.

    ·         Encouraged Members to complete their Related Party Disclosure form.

    ·         Noted that the rest of his announcements could be found in the agenda.




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    The Leader to make a statement.


    There will be an opportunity for Members to ask questions and/or make comments.


    Additional documents:


    The Leader of the Council made a detailed statement. A copy of the statement is attached as Appendix A.


    Members raised the following topics:


    ·         Highlighted that it was World Social Work Day, joined the Leader in thanking all of Surrey's social workers for their hard work despite facing tough conditions.

    ·         Congratulated those officers in being appointed as Interim Chief Executive and Interim Section 151 Officer, noting that they would do a good job despite ongoing financial pressures and increasing demand.

    ·         Noted that at the end of month nine the forecast was for a £3.3 million overspend in the Council’s budget this year, that had increased to £4 million even after using the £20 million contingency budget and additional money from reserves for the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) Recovery Plan.

    ·         Noted that the demand for children's and adults’ statutory services continued to rise, the Council was not intervening early enough; children with special educational needs and mental health issues were being pushed back.

    ·         Noted that the new Mindworks Surrey strategy allowed each school, irrespective of size or number of pupils, to book a one-hour monthly slot to consult on two children and young people who meet specific requirements, there were only 35 slots a week and over 500 schools in Surrey, equating to only four slots a year.

    ·         Asked whether the Schools Forum had been consulted on that new strategy, and whether the Council was giving schools additional funding or support, some families and carers were taking out large loans to fund private assessments.

    ·         Emphasised that support was ineffective and charities could only do so much, there was ongoing frustration at poor communication and record keeping.

    ·         Regarding the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) capital programme, the Budget Task Group raised concerns about its cost yet the delivery of the programme had not been flagged as a risk; costs had increased by 48% with between 920 to 1,180 places delivered against the target of 2,000.

    ·         Hoped that the Council was looking at the demands going forward, more scrutiny was needed and reports must highlight the areas for improvement.

    ·         Noted that there was indication that the Government was willing to address the financial challenges faced by the Council, funding for public health was vital to provide the necessary early intervention and prevention support.

    ·         Made a plea for the Council to visibly create hope for those feeling hopeless. 

    ·         Was pleased that the Leader mentioned the excellent visual impairment unit at Woking High School, highlighted that Woking College sought a similar unit.

    ·         Noted that members of Unison had voted over 90% in favour of strike action, Council staff were paid less than the National Joint Council pay award and many neighbouring councils.

    ·         Asked how the Council was engaging with staff and its unions on staff pay and conditions, and how would it mitigate strikes.

    ·         Noted that the County Deal provided Surrey with more control over matters within the county, however noted concern in the extra workload as the Council would have to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17/24



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    1.        The Leader of the Council, the Deputy Leader 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 13 March 2024).


    2.          Cabinet Member and Deputy Cabinet Member Briefings on their portfolios.


    These will be circulated by email to all Members prior to the County Council meeting, together with the Members’ questions and responses.


    There will be an opportunity for Members to ask questions.

    Additional documents:




    Notice of eighteen questions had been received. The questions and replies were published in the supplementary agenda on 18 March 2024.


    A number of supplementary questions were asked and a summary of the main points is set out below:


    (Q2) Catherine Powell asked whether the Cabinet Member believed that there was an opportunity for better working with the Council’s partners to consider their solutions regarding shared care records and asked how those services could be promoted widely.


    The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care explained that work was underway concerning record sharing and Technology Enabled Care, as well as scrutiny from the select committee. The programme would become clearer as the transformation plan is rolled out, she was keen to engage with the Member on that as it moves forward.


    (Q3) Robert Evans OBE asked whether the Cabinet Member had seen the articles by the press regarding the sale of the former County Hall in Kingston, which was sold by the Council for £25 million. He asked whether she was surprised to see that the forecast value was £250 million, querying whether it had been undersold. In response to the Leader who stated that the figurequoted regarding the forecast value was inaccurate, he asked whether the Cabinet Member would clarify the figures.


    Jonathan Essex referred to the penultimate sentence of the response around future development of the site and the Council securing ‘any excess of value’, he asked whether the Council would receive additional money.


    Steven McCormick referred to the last sentence of the response asking whether the ‘legal charge against the asset’ was time constrained, when would the full amount of the sale be realised; would that information be available to Members and residents.


    The Cabinet Member for Property, Waste and Infrastructureconfirmed that the Council sold the former County Hall site for in excess of £25 million. Regarding the Gross Development Value, Savills estimated it to be worth £250 million and so far, the purchasers RER (Kingston) Ltd had spent approximately £700,000 annually on empty rates, they had spent on security and planning application costs in excess of £1 million, interest rates had increased dramatically. She estimated that over £32 million had been spent on the site and that the residual land value with planning permission was between £35 and £40 million. She noted that hundreds of millions of pounds would be spent developing the site, the market was at a low point and the purchasers had spent more on the site than they likely expected. Therefore, she believed that the Council secured a good deal.


    (Q4) Jonathan Essex praised the response which highlighted the progress being made in reopening one of the largest libraries in east Surrey. He asked whether the Cabinet Member could confirm that Consort House has full disabled access and how for example, would the library be advertised in the town centre.


    The Cabinet Member for Property, Waste and Infrastructure was pleased that the Council was able to transfer the library service  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18/24



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    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 18 March 2024).

    Additional documents:


    There were none.



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    Item 8 (i)


    Robert Evans OBE (Stanwell and Stanwell Moor) to move under standing order 11 as follows:


    This Council believes that:


    The current system for local government finance is no longer fit for purpose.


    This Council resolves to:


    Call on the next government to bring in a fairer and more robust system to replace Council Tax.






    Additional documents:


    Item 8 (i)


    Under Standing Order 12.3 the Council agreed to debate this motion.


    Under Standing Order 20.3 (a) Robert Evans OBE moved a proposed alteration to the original motion standing in his own name, which had been published in the supplementary agenda on 18 March 2024.


    The proposed alteration to the motion was as follows (with additional words in bold/underlined and deletions crossed through):


    This Council believes that:


    The current system for local government finance is no longer fit for purpose.


    This Council resolves to:


    Call on the next government to bring in a fairer and more robust system to replace Council Tax.


    Under Standing Order 20.3, the proposed alteration to the original motion was put to the vote and Council agreed to the proposed alteration and it was therefore open for debate.


    Robert Evans OBE made the following points:


    ·         Noted that the current system for local government finance was no longer fit for purpose, it was largely based on Council Tax and a reform of which would be popular and make economic sense.

    ·         Noted that thirty years since the current Council Tax system was introduced, successive governments had not acted to address the long overdue reform.

    ·         Noted that Council Tax was based on 1991 property valuations, since then average house prices in Surrey had increased more than five times.

    ·         Stressed that the Council Tax system was unfair as those in the cheapest properties in Surrey pay disproportionately more than others in multi-million-pound homes.

    ·         Noted that if the motion is carried, Surrey could be at the forefront of change, sending a signal to a new government that reform was needed.

    ·         Suggested that in the short term, some new Council Tax bands could be introduced, meaning that those in larger more expensive properties contribute a fairer percentage of their income to the Council.

    ·         Suggested that in the long term, Council Tax, Stamp Duty Land Tax and the bedroom tax could all be replaced by a proportional property tax based on property values annually, doubled for empty homes; £5 billion potentially could be raised and distributed fairly. 

    ·         Suggested that a land tax would be more radical whereby the land would be valued and whilst it would be fairer, it would take longer to develop.

    ·         Emphasised that the motion did not exclude alternative suggestions by Members.

    ·         Believed that the next government must address the inequities, to make the country’s economy stronger.

    ·         Noted that there was no reason that a wealthy county like Surrey, should be constantly short of money and cutting services.


    The motion was formally seconded by Will Forster, who made the following comments:


    ·         Noted that councils’ funding nationwide had been cut by a quarter since 2016, the current system was broken and needed fixing.

    ·         Noted that Buckingham Palace was valued at £1 billion, was in Band H and was charged just over £1,800, that was equivalent to a Band B property in Surrey.

    ·         Noted that the Palace was charged less than an average three-bedroom house in Blackpool and 46%  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/24





    To agree the Terms of Reference and membership of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Frimley Park Hospital).

    Additional documents:


    The Chair of the Adults and Health Select Committee introduced the report, noting that the national New Hospital Programme aimed to build forty new hospitals by 2030. He noted that Frimley Park Hospital, served residents in Surrey, Hampshire and Bracknell Forest, and was one of the seven hospitals most severely affected by Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). The intention was to rebuild the hospital in a new location, and the regulations required the establishment of a Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC) to scrutinise the design plans. He explained that the Council would be the host authority with four members to sit on the JHOSC from Surrey, four from Hampshire and two from Bracknell Forest; politically proportionate and proportionate to the number of residents using the current hospital. Local Members for the divisions closest to the current hospital and new location if different, would be invited to the JHOSC meetings as non-voting observers.


    Three Members made the following comments:


    ·         Welcomed the clarification around the local Members as non-voting observers which would include Members with residents who use Frimley Park Hospital such as Farnham residents, asked for those local Members to be included.

    ·         Highlighted that a resident’s relevant hospital did not solely depend on where they live, but it also depended on the surgeries they use. An understanding was needed around which surgeries are associated with Frimley Park Hospital, rather than just the towns and villages.

    ·         Asked whether the Council’s JHOSC membership was composed of Members that live in the part of Surrey that Frimley Park Hospital serves. The Chair clarified that the membership had been published in the supplementary agenda.


    The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care thanked the Chair of the Adults and Health Select Committee for providing clarity about the next steps. She thanked the select committee for supporting Adult Social Care. She noted that it was Social Work Week and she asked Members to support the service particularly as it goes through the upcoming Care Quality Commission inspection. 




    1.    That the County Council agreed to the establishment of the Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Frimley Park Hospital) with effect from 19 March 2024 for the duration of the rebuilding programme (expected to be 10 years).

    2.    That the County Council be represented by four Members including the chair of its health scrutiny committee; and its membership be confirmed as:


    ·         Trefor Hogg

    ·         Richard Tear

    ·         Michaela Martin

    ·         Carla Morson


    3.    Any consequential amendments are made to the Council’s Constitution as required.




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    For Members to note the headline activity of the Council’s overview and scrutiny function in the period October 2023 to February 2024 asking questions of Scrutiny Chairs as necessary.




    Additional documents:


    The Chair of the Select Committee Chair and Vice-Chairs’ Group introduced the report, noting that scrutiny’s role was to help improve services provided to Surrey residents by holding the Cabinet and senior officers to account for their decisions; and to help develop the Council’s policies. The report set out the huge amount of work undertaken by the select committees across a range of subjects, including the deep dives by the Task and Finish Groups. She noted that it was vital to continue collecting valuable evidence from external witnesses and for recommendations to be effective.    


    The Leader thanked the Chairs of the select committee and the Chair of the Select Committee Chair and Vice-Chairs’ Group for all their hard work. He noted that he had continued to deliver on his commitment that all policy changes would be scrutinised by the select committees. He was pleased that Task and Finish Groups were up and running, those provided in-depth analysis of areas that could be improved.


    A Member called for greater officer supportfor the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture Select Committee, to ensure that it is supported adequately. 




    That Council reviewed the work summarised in this report providing feedback to Scrutiny Chairs as appropriate.




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    This report provides an annual overview of the council’s approach to member development, to provide assurance that the current approach is effective and equitable.


    Additional documents:


    The Chairman of the Member Development Steering Group (MDSG) introduced the report, providing assurance that it was equitable; it was for Members to decide its effectiveness. He noted that requested changes had been made to ensure that the Member Development Sessions were more interactive, there was also greater interaction through the two in-person Member Development Days. He noted that neither the sessions nor days were well-attended and improving that was a work in progress. He noted that the new Member Reference Library on Microsoft Teams would go live next month and would assist Members to use the facilities available. He encouraged Members to use the training offered by the Local Government Association. He noted that he was stepping down as the Chairman of the MDSG and he thanked officers for their hard work. He emphasised that the MDSG should be representative of all Members, that was why the membership changed annually and he asked Members to put themselves forward to join so they could shape the work. The next MDSG meeting would be in June and he noted that the MDSG’s work this year would focus on the Member induction courses post the 2025 county elections.




    That Council endorsed the current approach to Member development and agreed that it is equitable and effective.




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    To receive the report of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 27 February 2024.


    Additional documents:


    The Leader presented the report of the Cabinet meeting held on 27 February 2024.


    Recommendations on Policy Framework Documents:


    There were no reports with recommendations for Council.


    Reports for Information/Discussion


    27 February 2024:


    A.    Promoting and Supporting Sustainable Economic Growth in Surrey (LEP Integration) 

    B.    Provision of Primary School Places in the Planning Area of Reigate

    C.   Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Public Report Regarding Concerns About the Delivery of Education for Children with Additional Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

    D.   SFRS Fire House and Training Facility


    A Member noted a recent visit to the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) headquarters in Reigate, noting the large amount of work that it undertook. Thanked the Cabinet Member for Fire and Rescue, and Resilience, and the Cabinet for their support of the redevelopment of the SFRS which once redeveloped could let out facilities and develop the training offer to other Fire and Rescue Services nationally.


    E.    Quarterly Report on Decisions Taken Under Special Urgency Arrangements: 3 February 2024 - 11 March 2024




    1.     Noted that there had been no urgent decisions since the last Cabinet report to Council.

    2.     Adopted the report of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 27 February 2024.




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    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 18 March 2024.



    Additional documents:


    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.