Agenda and draft minutes

REMOTE & INFORMAL, Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee - Wednesday, 15 December 2021 10.00 am

Contact: Kunwar Khan, Scrutiny Officer 

Media

Items
No. Item

11/21

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

    To receive any apologies for absence and substitutions.

     

    Stephen Cooksey to be substituted by Will Forster.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Apologies for absence were received from Cameron McIntosh

    Will Forster attended as a substitute for Stephen Cooksey

12/21

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETINGS: 16 SEPTEMBER 2021 pdf icon PDF 246 KB

    To agree the minutes of the previous meeting of the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee as a true and accurate record of proceedings.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The minutes of the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee held on 16 September 2021 were reviewed. The minutes will be formally agreed at the next public meeting of the Select Committee.

     

13/21

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.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    None received.

14/21

QUESTIONS AND PETITIONS

    To receive any questions or petitions.

     

    The public retain their right to submit questions for written response, with such answers recorded in the minutes of the meeting; questioners may participate in meetings to ask a supplementary question. Petitioners may address the Committee on their petition for up to three minutes. Guidance will be made available to any member of the public wishing to speak at a meeting.

     

    Notes:

    1.    The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (Thursday, 9 December 2021).

     

    2.    The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting(Wednesday, 8 December 2021)

     

    3.    The deadline for petitions was 14 days before the meeting, and no petitions have been received. (Tuesday, 30 November 2021)

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    None received.

15/21

2022/23 DRAFT BUDGET REPORT AND MEDIUM-TERM FINANCIAL STRATEGY TO 2026/27 pdf icon PDF 230 KB

    Purpose of report:

     

    Scrutiny of the 2022/23 Draft Budget report and Medium-Term financial strategy 2026/27.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

     

    Matthew Furniss, Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure

     

    Anna D’Alessandro, Director, Corporate Finance and Commercial

    Katie Stewart, Executive Director Environment, Transport and Infrastructure

    Marie Snelling, Executive Director Customers and Communities

    Tony Orzieri, Strategic Finance Business Partner

    Nicola O’Connor, Strategic Finance Business Partner

    Mark Hak-Sanders, Strategic Finance Business Partner

    Rachel Wigley, Director Finance, Insights & Performance

     

    Officers introduced a summary of the item and outlined the key aspects of the report, particularly focussing on the budgets for the Environment, Transport and Infrastructure Directorate (ETI), the Community Protection Group (CPG), the Prosperity Partnerships and Growth (PPG) Directorate and elements of the Customer and Communities Directorate (C&C) relating to this Select Committee.

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    In response to a query about the impact of furlough, inflation and income pressures, an officer agreed that uncertainty brought risk to delivering the budget, especially the ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19. There was a £20m contingency built into the budget centrally that could meet any unforeseen pressures and there was a £58m total contingency. The officer added that the Council held reserves slightly over the 5-10% of its Net Revenue Budget reserve recommended by auditors and so were in a resilient position overall. The officer added that it was vital for directorates to keep within their budget envelopes in terms of inflation and National Insurance and the draft budget included provision to cover the National Insurance increases for employers. He added that the inclusion in the draft budget of 4% inflation was a reasonable starting point and that officers believed that this inflationary provision in the budget was sound.

     

    2.    The Chairman asked if any details of the impact, positive or negative, regarding the financial settlement status to be announced by the Government on Surrey could be sent to members please. This was agreed.

     

    3.    A member asked if taken together (Revenue and Capital), could residents be assured that this budget would not entail any deterioration of services across the board, for example, proposed changes to Community Recycling Policies etc.? Will they see improvements and if so, in what areas? An officer confirmed that the Council would not be delivering any kind of service reduction because of the changes in the budget that had been presented because of the efficiencies. They added that this was one of the guiding principles used to identify the efficiencies.

     

    4.    A member pressed further if the Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure could provide a commitment that all savings and efficiencies identified under the Committee’s relevant remit would not lead to any deterioration in its relevant services?

    The Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure confirmed that there were no plans to reduce services. A Select Committee Member enquired if improvements would be visible to residents? The Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure confirmed that residents would be able to see improvements. He said that the Highways restructure had been completed resulting in Highways no longer being at the top of reasons for complaint.

     

    5.    A  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15/21

16/21

ECONOMY AND GROWTH: PROGRAMME FOR GROWTH (INCLUDING LEVELLING UP WHITE PAPER AND COUNTY DEALS) pdf icon PDF 265 KB

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    Purpose of report:

     

    This report provides an update on the activities taken forward to deliver on the economic opportunities set out within Surrey’s Economic Strategy and to help address the economic challenges following the COVID-19 pandemic. An update is also provided on the Government’s proposed Levelling Up and Devolution White Paper and anticipated County Deals. 

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

     

    Tim Oliver, Leader of the Council

     

    Michael Coughlin, Executive Director Partnerships, Prosperity and Growth

    Rhiannon Mort, Head of Economic Infrastructure

     

    The Leader of the Council summarised the Economic Growth report for Members.

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    A Member asked where were the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and without them how could success be measured. An Officer said that they were clear about the metrics used to demonstrate the progress. They were aware from historic performance data that the Surrey economy was slowing compared to other parts of the UK. Indicators had been chosen to measure a targeted position by the end of the strategy period. They added that measures would be reported annually for the Surrey economy and that they would be captured within an appropriate timeframe to track progress towards the targeted position by 2030.

     

     

    2.    A Member asked if it could be explained why the only KPI without a figure against it was carbon reduction. The Leader of the Council explained that the carbon reduction KPI would be reported through the Greener Futures Board and confirmed that all considerations under Economic Growth would reflect a resulting carbon impact.

     

    3.    A member asked if the figure from The Greener Futures Board could be taken and reflected in Economic Growth. This was agreed.

     

     

    4.    A Member asked if officers could identify specific KPIs and funding streams could be used to monitor delivery and ensure that relevant themes and opportunities were successful.

    An Officer said that the table of KPIs set out target positions for 2030 and the delivery programme had been established. When a new project was launched, the delivery focus would then identify specific KPI around delivery points.

     

    5.    A Member said that it would be productive to be able to point local businesses in the right direction about relevant activities in their area.

    Leader of the Council said KPIs presented to the Growth Board could be shared with the Select Committee.

     

    6.    A Member asked when the next round of County Deals could be expected?

    The Leader of the Council confirmed that discussions had taken place with DLUHC officials in relation to pilot County Deals following the government’s announcement on 15 July 2021 The publication of the Levelling Up White Paper and announcement of pilot areas had been delayed and was now expected in January 2022. It was anticipated that Surrey would not be selected as a pilot area, despite the county’s draft County Deal being well received.

     

     

    7.    A Member asked if more information about the proposed co-operation with Hampshire County Council could be provided to Members?

    Leader of the Council said that Surrey had a good relationship with Hampshire and expected to continue these efforts. Discussions with the leadership at Hampshire were ongoing and looked to create an Economic Prosperity Board. The Board would provide a co-ordinating and alignment function without holding responsibility for local decision-making which would remain with the constituent authorities.

     

    8.    A Member asked, with County Deals in mind,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16/21

17/21

SURREY PUBLIC MORTUARY pdf icon PDF 288 KB

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    Purpose of report:

     

    This paper seeks to update and consult Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee on the work to develop the business case for a public mortuary including alternative options. A paper is scheduled to be taken to Surrey County Council Cabinet in February 2022 which will include detailed costs. Work is currently underway with specialist cost consultants, the four NHS hospital trusts and the University of Surrey regarding options and funding arrangements.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

     

    Steve Owen Hughes, Director, Community Protection and Emergencies

    Sarah Kershaw, Chief of Staff and Deputy Director of Community Protection Group

     

    The Director for Community Protection and Emergencies summarised the report noting the lack of facilities for body storage across the County and the national shortage of Pathologists.

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Chairman thanked Officers for the detailed report. Members and Officers agreed that options three and four were the main options for consideration. 

    An officer noted that that option three would achieve statutory requirements which would be an improvement but would not involve the transportation of bodies and meant that the Council would still be reliant on the current goodwill of hospitals, resulting in continued delays. They said that option four addressed the national shortage and would deliver our aspirations, including better innovation and addressing the national shortage of pathologists by building partnerships with medial based faculties in Surrey which would be cutting edge and world leading.

     

    2.    The Chairman said that the added value of option four over option three was overwhelming officers and members were in agreement.

     

    3.    A Member asked what was being done to encourage the role of schools and colleges in the area to address the skills deficit?

    An officer said that discussions were taking place with education providers including the University of Surrey and Royal Holloway and that there was a plan to attend community and education fairs.

     

    4.    A Member asked if security aspect had been a consideration with the suggested options given a recent high-profile court case concerning mortuaries?

    Officers explained that option four would provide modern facilities with good security measures and that the vetting of staff was a high priority following reforms in the Coroners Service.

     

     

    Recommendations:

     

    The Select Committee:

     

    1.         Appreciates the progress that has been made in developing the business case, especially the partnership with the Surrey NHS hospital trusts and the University of Surrey;

    2.         Work in partnership with appropriate local educational institutes to encourage participation, involvement and take up in this discipline;

    3.         Supports the adoption of Option 4;

18/21

RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER AND FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 94 KB

19/21

DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING: 21 JANUARY 2022

    The next public meeting of the committee will be held on 21 January 2021 at Woodhatch Place, Reigate.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Committee noted its next meeting would be held on 21 January 2022.