Agenda item


The Leader to make a statement.


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



Colin Cross arrived at 10.10 am.


Buddhi Weerasinghe arrived at 10.15 am.


The Leader of the Council made a detailed statement.


A copy of the statement is attached as Appendix A. Members raised the following topics:


·         Agreed that Members should be proud of the Council’s staff.

·         Highlighted the continuing issues in Home to School Transport; the number of appeals had increased and parents should not have to deal with the stress of unnecessary appeals.

·         Hoped that Members on the Appeals Panels would now be listened to and the fifty recommendations from the internal review would be actioned; noted that a new board had been set up to oversee the progress however it lacked cross-party membership. 

·         Noted that the budget to be debated at February’s Council meeting should cover an increased mileage allowance for staff who drive as part of their duties and saw no evidence of the Cabinet applying pressure on Surrey’s MPs to achieve that.

·         Noted that once in receipt of the final settlement figures for Surrey from the Government, the Council must decide how to close the current £14 million budget gap ensuring that services are preserved particularly for the most vulnerable; noting perhaps a total 4% Council tax increase, the balance was between making efficiencies and being efficient.

·         Noted that the latest version of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) scheme was controversial for many Surrey residents and strongly encouraged cross-party working across the Council and the borough and district councils most affected, and close liaison with the Mayor of London.

·         Wished all a Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2023 for all in the county; and collaboration between Members to face the challenges ahead. 

·         Welcomed a new Member of the Council, Harry Boparai who was elected at the recent by-election and noted that the Liberal Democrat Group was at its largest since 1997.

·         Thanked the administration for listening to the concerns raised about the affordability of the Your Fund Surrey project, with the budget now reduced from £100 million to £60 million.

·         Noted that the Council was spending £500,000 on Community Link Officers (CLOs) to engage with local communities and Members as a replacement of the Local and Joint Committees; asked how the Leader could justify that level of spending.

·         Noted disappointment that the relationship between the borough and district councils and the Council appeared to have soured; welcomed that in the new year the Leader would listen to and work with the borough and district councils further.

·         Asked the Leader to commit to expand the Council’s use of community hubs that were warm and free so that there was one within walking distance of all neighbourhoods in Surrey; and for the Leader to commit to the Council to undertake an energy makeover of the community spaces before next winter.

·         Noted thanks for the recent excellent sustainable transport learning event and examples provided of areas doubling their bus patronage due to the introduction of bus priority lanes at a bigger scale then being proposed in Surrey.

·         Welcomed the current bus consultation as a chance to expand bus routes to meet Surrey's far less ambitious plan for a 15% increase but was shocked that the consultation proposed cuts to three local bus routes.

·         Welcomed that the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture (CFLLC) Select Committee had secured an internal review of Home to School Transport; noted surprise that the internal review sought to improve internal processes, as opposed to addressing the causes of the increased appeals.

·         Noted that the Council’s review heard the views of three parent carers compared to the number of recommendations and views of 290 residents heard by Family Voice Surrey; asked the Leader to commit to listen to what comes back to the CFLLC Select Committee and the suggestions from both reviews.

·         Noted that there were people in the county being left behind, noting the increasing number of people reliant on food banks and people concerned about their heating bills, their mortgages and the general cost of living crisis.

·         Highlighted the recent floods in their division, there were many people who spent three days unable to get out of their houses because of flood water outside; they felt left behind.

·         Noted serious reservations about the money for Your Fund Surrey which was being distributed disproportionately to wealthier areas in the county, there were many who felt left behind.

·         Applauded the contribution that the Council along with the borough and district councils and charities, had made to support the Ukrainian crisis; but asked what the Council was doing to support Afghan and other refugees.

·         Asked whether the Leader could provide hope and optimism when looking forward to the new year, so that far fewer people feel left behind.

·         Asked whether the Leader agreed that far from offering support to local government or providing empowerment, the financial settlement to local government provided one year at a time was to the detriment of all political parties and a long-term solution to local government funding was required.

·         Referred to the Leader talking about working in partnership, however noted outrage at the lack of democracy concerning an email sent to local Members from Surrey Heartlands which requested a decision to be made in the absence of data or an impact statement; a follow up letter was sent noting that the Leader and Chief Executive of the Council agreed to the proposal; asked the Leader what data and impact statement the decision was based on.

·         Asked the Leader whether he would agree that the £500,000 to £750,000 cost of the CLOs might had been better spent on recruiting more people to help Surrey’s young people that needed support. 


Supporting documents: