Agenda item


The Leader to make a statement.


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



Amanda Boote joined the meeting at 10.06 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:


·         Stressed that Members cross-party were concerned with the inadequate provision of the services that residents received, evidenced by the many Member questions on vulnerable children and grass verges.

·         Noted disappointment that the Leader did not mention climate change despite the Council’s declaration of a ‘climate emergency’ four years ago, a step change was still awaited on climate change.

·         Noted concern that the Council was still ignoring the Government and a Liberal Democrat original motion in 2018 by charging householders for taking DIY waste to Community Recycling Centres, the Council must change its policy and not charge householders.

·         Hoped that the detailed input the Residents' Association and Independent Group provided to the task and finish groups would be part of the rapid improvement and positive change to highways.

·         Noted that residents in a 2021 consultation on council tax spend, wanted funding protected for services to support the vulnerable, more investment in early intervention and prevention, and those most at risk of being left behind at the heart of decision-making.

·         Noted that contrary to the above, efficiencies were made in the 2022 and 2023 budgets affecting services to the most vulnerable: children and young people including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) with cuts in funding to charities that delivered early intervention, and older adults and adults with disabilities and their carers.

·         Asked how officers chose which children would benefit from the Local Early Autism Programme funding and who would be left behind, the demand was four times the places available.

·         Noted that there were 1,300 Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) outstanding against the twenty-week limit.

·         Welcomed early engagement on the budget and the commitment to provide the Equality Impact Assessments in October to the select committees but noted the need to act now to reinstate the early intervention and prevention services that were lost.

·         Noted that the 2024 budget must deliver for all residents, placing those most at risk of being left behind at the heart of decision-making; officers and Members must work collaboratively and use local knowledge.

·         Asked for the Leader to provide detail on the Integrated Care Systems and how new partnerships had been forged across the county.

·         Noted that the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) found that the Council had failed SEND children and young people were not receiving the education to which they were entitled, asked whether those responsible for the failures in the system had been held to account.

·         Asked the Leader to comment on the leaflet by UNISON which referred to the current dispute with the Council regarding the low pay offer, it was highlighted that one in ten members of UNISON resorted to food banks.

·         Asked what measures the Leader would propose to improve the health of people in Surrey, particularly those in the more urban areas who were more subjected to nitrogen oxides; and whether the Leader would consider something similar in Surrey to the Ultra Low Emission Zone.

·         Asked what the connection was between the declaration of a climate emergency four years ago, the equal need to declare a ‘biodiversity emergency’ now and the commitment to leaving no one behind; an emergency called for action rather than tweaking existing strategies.  

·         Highlighted that the Council underspends on special needs provision in schools by around £2.4 million, equivalent to 2,365 children waiting twelve weeks over the twenty-week limit.

·         Noted that schools were experiencing the underspend through a lack of Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators, other children and teachers were affected; asked the Leader to commit to address the shortage.

·         Asked whether the ambition of ‘No One Left Behind’ would be treated as a public declaration, an emergency to act on now.

·         Welcomed the Leader’s focus on the provision of essential services and ambition of ‘No One Left Behind’, whilst acknowledging that difficult decisions needed to made in light of the current financial context.


Edward Hawkins joined the meeting at 10.34 am.


·         Emphasised that Your Fund Surrey was enhancing and improving communities and providing essential services; thanked the Cabinet for the £3 million awarded to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford.

·         Noted that the Your Fund Surrey Small Community Projects Fund was vital and noted an upcoming allocation to 1st Send Scouts which would transform their ability to be a community facility on the River Wey.

·         Noted that the Surrey Scouts headquarters, Bentley Copse, was delivering opportunities and experiences for young people across the county; and this would be pursued with the relevant Cabinet Member.

·         Noted that 70% of Surrey was rural and those areas had a different feel and need to urban areas; praised the work of parish councils in their rural division, Members’ funding from the Council had supported the parish councils; would like to see parish councils recognised going forward in the positive opportunities arising from the task and finish groups.

·         Noted that allowing grass verges to grow long in rural areas was beneficial, they were havens for wildlife and a natural traffic calming tool.

·         Encouraged the Leader to explore how children could be supported in the classroom who may not need an ECHP but need extra help.

·         Referring to the Council’s takeover of parking enforcement on 1 April from the borough and district councils, noted inaction from the parking enforcement team regarding several emails sent to them.

·         Noted that verge cutting was not being done and the issues were not anticipated, cuttings were left in gutters and drains blocked; the weather was not to blame.

·         Referred to the Equality Act 2010 and the requirement to make reasonable adjustments to the Council’s buildings such as Woodhatch Place, only a few actions and recommendations from the 2021 report were completed. A witness to recent select committee meetings produced a report listing many problems around accessibility, concluding that the whole building urgently required safety improvements.

·         Referring to the Leader’s comment on people having pride in their neighbourhoods in Surrey, noted that many residents were appalled by the state of their verges and roundabouts; roads signs being obscured due to the failure to cut grass verges was not due to encouraging biodiversity.

·         Noted that as with filling potholes, the Council needed to get the basics right, otherwise the claims of success and modernisation would be lost.

·         Asked when the conclusions and recommendations of the two task and finish groups on highways would be available to Members.

·         Thanked the Leader and the Cabinet Member for Transport, Infrastructure and Growth for expanding the bus network in Surrey and urged them to press on with providing more services particularly in rural areas.

·         Highlighted that the Surrey Connect Demand-Responsive Transport bus service was due to start at the beginning of September with five routes, filling in the infrequent services provided by Arriva and Stagecoach; residents were astounded by the new bus service available from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm Monday to Friday and from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm on Saturdays.


Becky Rush joined the meeting at 10.55 am.


Supporting documents: