Agenda item


Purpose of the report: Scrutiny of Services and Budgets / Policy Development and Review


This report is in response to the £340k saving identified against the Winter Service budget in the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP), as approved by the Council. 

Winter Service budget reduction options were presented to the Winter Task Group on 28th July 2016. This report summarises those options.



Declarations of interest:






Dan Squibb, Asset Planning Team Manager

Jason Russell, Assistant Director for Highways and Transport

      John Furey, Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Flooding



Key points raised during the discussion:


  1. The chairman of the winter maintenance task group introduced the report by informing the board that the matter was looked at in detail, reviewing the options provided in the report trying to save £340k against the budget. The chairman was clear that reaching that figure was not deliverable and felt a wider input from the Board would be more appropriate than the group to make direct recommendations.


  1. The chairman asked members whether they wanted to support reducing P1 route length. Members unanimously agreed against the reduction which had a saving value of estimate of £48,000 (per route 52km).


  1. Officers were asked whether the saving option in relation to the thermal mapping would be a capital or revenue cost, as an upfront cost of £115k was required. The assistant director of highways and transport informed the board that it would be a revenue cost as it would be an investment option. It was also highlighted that the initial cost would not be a saving against the £340k targetand would be sought from the corporate centre which would be returned when the £150k is saved in the following year.


  1. The chairman indicated that subject to the upfront cost being taken from the investor’s pot rather than the highways budget for the thermal mapping, would the board support this recommendation. The Board agreed that the thermal mapping option would be a savings option that would be supported, sharing the view that it would return long term gains.


  1. A member highlighted the point that the saving options provided would not deliver the £340k saving as they would not achieve the figure that needed to be reached. The Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Flooding advised members that if the saving was not found here, it would have to be found somewhere else in the budget.


  1. The next saving reviewed by the board was the removal of one mini salting vehicle. The asset planning team manager informed the members that two mini salting vehicles were originally procured but removing one would save £15,700.The board did not approve of the removal of one mini salting vehicle and showed support in favour of the two salting vehicles to remain, to support the County.


  1. With regards to the grit bins, the board did not support option one which was not to fill any bins on the network. Although it was clarified that grit bins were not a statutory requirement, members supported the health and safety benefit of grit bins and did not approve of this saving.


  1. The asset planning team manager updated the board on option two, which was to only fill the bins that have salt below a certain level and said this saving option was no longer available as it was already carried out. There was a suggestion that some investigations into under 50% fill happening, but it wouldn’t be possible to judge a saving until after this winter. In addition, the board did not advocate option 3 which was to increase the scoring criteria for bins to remain on the network.


  1. Members debated that option 7, to discontinue district and borough salt provisions, would be counterproductive as it was very popular throughout the county to have it continued. The board encouraged to have this remain, for a safety measure as the salt was primarily used for footways.


  1. The board were updated on the farmers plough maintenance saving option, which has been committed to for this financial year and is no longer an option to follow. Members agreed that this was sensible as it was a small cost against the potential risks.


  1. The chairman concluded that the board would support the thermal mapping option and the remaining saving options were not appropriate possibilities. The chairman indicated, as the £340k saving was not achieved, officers would have to seek this elsewhere in the budget and that the Board would be interested to receive details in due course.




The Economic Prosperity, Environment and Highways board recommends;


  1. That Officers continue to develop a financial plan for the Thermal Mapping proposal, to ensure a significant saving is returned against the initial revenue expenditure, albeit in future financial years.


  1. That Cabinet considers more acceptable means for generating savings from the Environment and Infrastructure budget in order to obtain the £340,000 target for this financial year.






Supporting documents: