Agenda and minutes

Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee
Thursday, 23 January 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Ashcombe Suite, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN. View directions

Contact: Ross Pike, Committees Business Manager 

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

2.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETINGS: 22 NOVEMBER 2019 pdf icon PDF 133 KB

3.

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.

     

    NOTES:

     

    ·         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); and

     

    ·         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.

    Minutes:

    None received.

4.

QUESTIONS AND PETITIONS pdf icon PDF 53 KB

    To receive any questions or petitions.

    Notes:

    1.    The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (17 January 2020).

     

    2.    The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting(16 January 2020)

     

    3.    The deadline for petitions was 14 days before the meeting, and no petitions have been received.

    Minutes:

    None received.

5.

SCRUTINY OF REVENUE AND CAPITAL BUDGET 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 71 KB

    Purpose of report: To provide details of the budget for scrutiny prior to Cabinet and Council meetings.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    HIGHWAYS

    1. The Director of Financial Insight gave an overview of the council’s budgetary position and strategy. They stated the budget was in the consultation phase and that comments and observations from each of the Select Committees would be communicated back to the Resources and Performance Select Committee ahead of Cabinet. Cabinet would then decide whether to recommend the budget to council on February 42020. The budget was underpinned by the concept of financial envelopes for each directorate. Service strategies and proposals had been developed to ensure costs were contained within these financial envelopes. The Director stated that the financial strategy set out how resources would be directed to deliver on both the organisation strategy and the transformation and ambitions of the council. Significant progress had been made as an organisation from financial recovery towards financial stability, whilst continuing the journey of improvement. The Director stated that two years previously the council had been relying on reserves to balance the budget however, the budget for 20/21 would be based on sustainability and investment. The Transformation Programme would continue to deliver efficiencies, providing offset against continuing demand for services. For the council’s picture as a whole, in terms of revenue, there was £78m worth of demand pressure from services which were partly offset by £38m in proposed efficiencies. Therefore, the council’s net budget increased from £928m to £968m in 20/21. The £40m increase was from additional funding from central government. The Capital Programme proposed over the coming years was £1.4b. The Director highlighted that the cost of borrowing had been included in the council’s budget.

     

    1. The Director - Infrastructure and Delivery stated that, with regards to highways and transport, the directorate would be reviewing management of the network and supporting a shift to more sustainable travel solutions. The strategic transport infrastructure had been developing well and would also aid a shift to more sustainable solutions. With regard to the environment, there was significant change expected in strategy from the National Planning Policy Framework, the Environment Bill and the Resources and Waste Strategy. The directorate needed to ascertain how these changes would fit in with the Council’s own agenda in the corresponding areas. The Director - Infrastructure and Delivery stated that there would also be great focus in the year ahead on achieving both Surrey’s and national climate emergency targets. 

     

    1. The Director - Infrastructure and Delivery referred to the budget spend that Surrey County Council had been making on highway maintenance and service levels. The Director - Infrastructure and Delivery emphasised that it was important to appreciate the choices that the council had made with regard to its service levels in managing the network and that the figures should not be interpreted as value for money. Surrey’s urban network was intensive and costly to look after. With regard to benchmarking on waste and recycling, there were variances across the districts and boroughs and the service would be looking at how more efficiencies could be achieved from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER AND FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 43 KB

    Purpose of report: for the Select Committee to review the attached recommendations tracker and forward work programme, making suggestions for additions or amendments as appropriate.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Key points raised in the discussion:

    1. A Member stated that the capital pipeline could not be scrutinised without further detail and raised their concern that the budget did not satisfactorily respond to the climate crisis.

     

    1. The Chairman stated that more details on investment proposals and how these would be taken forward should be put on the agenda for the Committee meeting in March. He emphasised the importance of encouraging the council to be ambitious on funding and achieving net zero.

     

    1. A Member stated that they would like to see stringent contract management and robust treatment of contingencies. The Committee was in agreement on this.

     

    1. A Member voiced their lack of confidence in delivery of a new bus network due to lack of funding in this area. They stated the importance of investing in the public transport network in achieving the council’s greener future objectives. The Chairman supported the improvements to the highways recommendation. Members agreed that the council should give prioritisation to bus services and that this should be scrutinised in the future.

     

    1. A Member requested a briefing regarding the status of Rethinking Transport.

     

    1. Members expressed interest in forming an Eco Park task group in the future. 

     

    Recommendations:

    To note:

    Items that needed to be added to the March meeting owing to upcoming Cabinet decisions:

    • Greener Futures Investment Paper
    • Climate Change Strategy including the Tree Strategy
    • Future of Countryside Services

     

7.

DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING: 24 MARCH 2020