Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Committee for Leader, Finance and Performance - Wednesday, 13th January, 2021 5.00 pm

As of May 2021, decision making of meetings of the Council have returned to in-person sessions. A number of meetings remain virtual, with appropriate Councillors attending via remote video link. Public access to these meetings is via a live stream video through the Council’s official YouTube channel


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No. Item


Roll Call and Virtual Meetings Explanation.


The Chairman carried out a roll call to establish attendance at the meeting. The Solicitor to the Council provided information on the format of the virtual meeting.


To note Substitutes in Accordance with Council Procedure Rule 4 - Substitutes at Meetings of Committees etc.




To receive apologies for absence.




To receive Declarations of Interests from Members in respect of any matter on the Agenda.


In relation to any discussion concerning West Sussex County Council, Councillor Andrew Lea declared that he is a West Sussex County Councillor.


To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 11 November 2020. pdf icon PDF 207 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on 11 November 2020 were agreed as a correct record and electronically signed by the Chairman.


To consider any items that the Chairman agrees to take as urgent business.


The Chairman acknowledged that he had received a question related to Clair Hall, however it would not be considered at this meeting. The information requested was not available at short notice, and Clair Hall falls under the business of the Scrutiny Committee for Community and Customer Services.


Draft Corporate Plan and Budget 2021-22. pdf icon PDF 131 KB

Additional documents:


The Chairman thanked Members for submitting detailed questions in advance, and confirmed that responses have been provided. He reminded Members that in consideration of the Corporate Plan and Budget, the Council’s key priorities should be the main focus.


The Leader provided an introduction, noting that the Council was in the unusual position of having recently agreed a revised Corporate Plan in September, due to the impact of the pandemic. He noted that the new draft Corporate Plan is a continuation of the priorities and workstreams recently agreed and is based on using the Council’s reserves to underpin the provision of services. He noted that this was not a sustainable position and in the medium term there is a need to bring the budget back into balance and rebuild the reserves.  One step is to increase Council Tax, not just to put the Council’s funding into a secure position, but to safeguard the services that can be delivered to residents and businesses.


Kathryn Hall, Chief Executive reiterated the financial pressures faced by the Council as a result of the pandemic. She noted that the report being considered by the Committee has been updated to include the provisional settlement, but that the situation nationally changes quickly, and the report does not take into consideration the effects of the recent restrictions announced in January.


Members discussed the need for the Council to be actively commercial, noting that the Minister recently commented on the need for Local Authorities to change their methods of investment. It was noted that this Council is not highly leveraged, and investments have often been in areas where there is a synergy with the Council’s existing interests. It was acknowledged that there is a need to generate a diverse source of revenue but to also balance the risks and benefits of this. A number of Members supported this approach.


Discussion was held on whether the Corporate Plan and Budget was resilient in the face of unforeseeable changes. It was noted that the Council entered the pandemic in a strong financial position which is key to being agile in responding to the needs of residents and the pressures put on by Government. The Leader noted that the financial income support scheme that Government put in place for Local Authorities also responds in an agile fashion and covers 75% of some areas of lost revenue. As it is backdated to the first quarter of the financial year, this will assist.


Members discussed the position of the reserves, noting that the budget was drawn up prior to the recent further closure of the Leisure Centres, which is an ongoing pressure on the Council’s finances. Peter Stuart, Head of Corporate Resources noted that the budget proposal is for 4 years, however it is very hard in the current climate to project that far ahead, and figures will change. Although allowance has not been made for further costs related to centre closures, allowance has been made for a reduction in income. Similarly, capital programme costs  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Scrutiny Committee for Leader Finance and Performance Work Programme 2020-21. pdf icon PDF 278 KB


Tom Clark, Head of Regulatory Services introduced the report, noting the 2 items to be discussed at the meeting in March.


The Chairman took Members to the recommendation contained in the report which was agreed unanimously.




The Committee agreed the indicative Work Programme as set out at paragraph 5 of the report.


Questions pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 10.2 due notice of which has been given.