Agenda item


The Leader to make a statement.


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



The Leader of the Council made a detailed statement. A copy of the statement is attached as Appendix A.


Members raised the following topics:


·         Highlighted that it was World Social Work Day, joined the Leader in thanking all of Surrey's social workers for their hard work despite facing tough conditions.

·         Congratulated those officers in being appointed as Interim Chief Executive and Interim Section 151 Officer, noting that they would do a good job despite ongoing financial pressures and increasing demand.

·         Noted that at the end of month nine the forecast was for a £3.3 million overspend in the Council’s budget this year, that had increased to £4 million even after using the £20 million contingency budget and additional money from reserves for the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) Recovery Plan.

·         Noted that the demand for children's and adults’ statutory services continued to rise, the Council was not intervening early enough; children with special educational needs and mental health issues were being pushed back.

·         Noted that the new Mindworks Surrey strategy allowed each school, irrespective of size or number of pupils, to book a one-hour monthly slot to consult on two children and young people who meet specific requirements, there were only 35 slots a week and over 500 schools in Surrey, equating to only four slots a year.

·         Asked whether the Schools Forum had been consulted on that new strategy, and whether the Council was giving schools additional funding or support, some families and carers were taking out large loans to fund private assessments.

·         Emphasised that support was ineffective and charities could only do so much, there was ongoing frustration at poor communication and record keeping.

·         Regarding the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) capital programme, the Budget Task Group raised concerns about its cost yet the delivery of the programme had not been flagged as a risk; costs had increased by 48% with between 920 to 1,180 places delivered against the target of 2,000.

·         Hoped that the Council was looking at the demands going forward, more scrutiny was needed and reports must highlight the areas for improvement.

·         Noted that there was indication that the Government was willing to address the financial challenges faced by the Council, funding for public health was vital to provide the necessary early intervention and prevention support.

·         Made a plea for the Council to visibly create hope for those feeling hopeless. 

·         Was pleased that the Leader mentioned the excellent visual impairment unit at Woking High School, highlighted that Woking College sought a similar unit.

·         Noted that members of Unison had voted over 90% in favour of strike action, Council staff were paid less than the National Joint Council pay award and many neighbouring councils.

·         Asked how the Council was engaging with staff and its unions on staff pay and conditions, and how would it mitigate strikes.

·         Noted that the County Deal provided Surrey with more control over matters within the county, however noted concern in the extra workload as the Council would have to adequately resource those new responsibilities.

·         Asked whether the Leader had assessed the impact of that burden and whether there would be changes to the Cabinet and select committees to be able to scrutinise that; how much would the County Deal cost in money and staff time.

·         Asked whether the Leader was aware and agreed with Guildford Borough Council’s decision - or possible misinterpretation - to ban all campaigning in Guildford High Street on the basis that it was Surrey County Council land.

·         Referring to the elections for the Mayor of London on 2 May and the transport links between Surrey and London, asked whether the Leader would review the Council’s approach of non-cooperation with a newly elected Mayor of London.

·         Regarding the recent inspection, noted that the Council had let down many families and children over the last few years, asked when the Leader thinks that the recovery would be complete.

·         Welcomed the new children's homes, but asked what proportion of children were being placed in homes outside of Surrey; and when the Leader thinks that would be reduced to zero in the future.

·         Asked the Leader to list the specific benefits of the County Deal that residents could expect to see in the next few months and years.

·         Asked whether the Leader in his recent visit to Downing Street mentioned the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) which had been replaced by Surrey's County Deal.

·         Asked whether the Council had no choice but to spend an extra £200 million to extend its twenty-five year waste and incineration contract by five more years despite market engagement indicating no commercial interest in the incinerator.

·         Asked whether it was in residents’ interest to give Ringway the responsibility for filling potholes and road resurfacing in a contract that could run for twenty-one years and be worth £2.5 billion, how could the Council ensure that it does not lead to money being spent on repairing roads at the expense of funding buses.

·         Noted that an independent review in 2018 concluded that Surrey was not delivering high quality Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services; the Mindworks Surrey contract was for ten years and queried why the Council accepted Mindworks Surrey not taking referrals for neurodiverse children.

·         Noted that EHCPs were supposed to cut waiting times for additional needs children to twenty weeks, yet the Council did not have the funding to support the increased demand for school places in Surrey and was required to take out £8 million from schools’ budget for the Safety Valve Agreement; schools with more SEND children suffered most from the EHCP delays and funding shortfall.

·         Queried whether the Council’s large waste and road contracts were delivering the best value and whether those could be reviewed to generate savings which could be reinvested to support vulnerable residents and young people.

·         Noted a recent visit to the new children's home in Epsom which was homely and had a good atmosphere, and was in the centre of the town, it was a blueprint for future homes; congratulated those involved in making it a reality.

·         Regarding the County Deal, welcomed the devolution of the adult education budget from 2026 to 2027 to the Council, it would provide an opportunity to provide adequate adult education in Mole Valley, helping residents in improving their skills leaving no one behind.

·         Congratulated the Leader for securing a historic Level 2 County Deal, which would boost economic growth including green jobs and promote house building and urban regeneration; asked whether the Leader was ambitious to broaden and deepen devolution to Surrey and if so, what other responsibilities would he like to see devolved to the Council over time.


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