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Agenda item

Wiltshire Council's Financial Plan Update 2017/18

Details of the Budget Process which will be used at the meeting are attached.

Minutes:

Council was asked to consider a net revenue budget of £311.351 million, to increase council tax, approve rents, fees and charges, the capital programme and reserves as detailed fully in the updated published budget papers.

 

The Chairman explained at the outset, how he intended to chair this item and referred to the previously circulated budget process. He reminded Councillors of the various papers that had been circulated in connection with Council’s consideration of this item as follows:

 

a)        The Leader’s budget speech - this was emailed to Councillors once it was given and is attached as Appendix A to these minutes.

 

b)        The proposed amendments of the Liberal Democrat group, including comments from statutory officers.

 

c)       The reports of the meetings of the Overview And Scrutiny Management Committee held on 1 and 14 February 2017.

 

d)       The recommendations from the Cabinet meeting held on 7 February 2017.

 

E)        The Financial Plan Update 2017/18 report of the Section 151 Officer, together with the  Budget Book, proposed fees and charges and the relevant extract of the Schools Forum minutes, minutes of the meeting held between group leaders and trade unions, the Wiltshire Housing Board and a summary of the public meetings held across the County.

 

The Leader of the Council addressed Council delivering her budget speech (Appendix A). In making her address, the Leader highlighted the three priorities that had informed the development of the budget: protecting the vulnerable, promoting the local economy and supporting volunteering and community resilience. Reference was made to the opportunities taken to encourage investment, and the opportunities to give communities more power over their facilities and services. The Leader concluded by thanking officers and her Cabinet for working hard to produce the budget.

 

Councillor Dick Tonge, Cabinet member for Finance, presented the Council’s proposed Financial Plan update for 2017/18. In presenting the budget, he referred to the savings that had been identified, and the areas that would receive financial investment.

 

Councillor Tonge thanked Michael Hudson, Associate Director for Finance, his team and other officers for their hard work in putting together a difficult budget, and that they had helped develop innovative approaches to the challenges presented.

 

Councillor Dick Tonge moved the budget as presented and this was duly seconded by the Leader. This included further proposals by the Administration as presented to Cabinet on 7 February.

 

Councillor Simon Killane, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee, presented the reports of his Committee dated 1 February which had considered and scrutinised the budget proposals, and from the meeting on the 14 February where the proposals made by the Liberal Democrat Group had been presented. He made reference to the useful briefing given to all members by the Cabinet Member and officers, and emphasised the importance of ensuring all backbench councillors were fully informed. 

 

Councillor Glenis Ansell, in her capacity as Chairman of the Financial Planning Task Group, reported on the work of her Task Group and how it had reviewed and monitored the budget, including tracking overspends and the actions being taken to address these. This year, the Task Group had also reviewed the issue of the Four Year financial offer proposed by the Government.

 

The Chairman then invited Group Leaders to comment on the budget as proposed.

 

Councillor Glenis Ansell, in her capacity as Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, stated that she recognised that this was a challenging set of circumstances, particularly with the pressures in social care, in which to set a budget. However, she considered that the administration had not taken opportunities to protect some services where able, and that cuts to staff and budgets were resulting in problems for projects such as the campus and development of the Chippenham Sites Plan. She too concluded by thanking the officers for their hard work in preparing the budget and supporting her group in developing its own proposals.

 

Councillor Ernie Clark, Leader of the Independent Group, endorsed much of what Councillor Ansell had said, and, in particular, stated that Social Care should be more fairly funded from central government budgets rather than leaving it to local government.

 

Councillor Ian McLennan, Deputy-Leader of the Labour Group, criticised central government’s approach and attitude towards local government, and emphasised the impact of cuts on staff.

 

The Chairman then gave Group Leaders the opportunity to propose amendments to the budget, noting that all Group Leaders had already been given the opportunity to submit amendments in time to be scrutinised.

 

Councillor Glenis Ansell formally proposed her Group’s amendments, as detailed in the council summons, subsequently seconded by Councillor Gordon King, which had been considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee on 14 February 2017.

 

In response to the amendment, The Leader stated that whilst the principle of the proposals was sound, she could not support them as: she did not believe investing money in recycling centres where usage was dropping was a good use of resources; a reduction in the professional fees budget may affect staff development; and that the additional savings required from the procurement budget would be difficult to achieve.

 

Councillor Ian McLennan spoke in support of the motion as he believed it would reduce incidents of fly-tipping.

 

Other issues raised in the debate on the amendment included: the impact of opening hours on the usage of the recycling centres; whether the increased cost was a good use of resources; and how demand could be managed better throughout the day.

 

At the end of the debate on the amendment, and following a recorded vote, the motion was LOST.

 

For the amendment (25):

 

Cllr Bob Jones MBE, Cllr Chris Auckland, Cllr Chris Caswill, Cllr Chris Hurst, Cllr David Jenkins, Cllr David Pollitt, Cllr Desna Allen, Cllr Glenis Ansell, Cllr Gordon King, Cllr Ian Mclennan, Cllr Ian Thorn, Cllr Ian West, Cllr Jamie Capp, Cllr John Walsh, Cllr Jon Hubbard, Cllr Linda Packard, Cllr Magnus Macdonald, Cllr Mark Packard, Cllr Nick Fogg MBE, Cllr Pat Aves, Cllr Peter Edge, Cllr Rosemary Brown, Cllr Russell Hawker, Cllr Stephen Oldrieve and Cllr Trevor Carbin.     

 

Against the amendment (59):

 

Baroness Scott of Bybrook OBE, Cllr Alan Hill, Cllr Alan MacRae, Cllr Allison Bucknell, Cllr Andrew Davis, Cllr Anna Cuthbert, Cllr Atiqul Hoque, Cllr Bill Moss, Cllr Bridget Wayman, Cllr Charles Howard, Cllr Christopher Newbury, Cllr Christopher Williams, Cllr Chuck Berry, Cllr Dennis Drewett, Cllr Ernie Clark, Cllr Fleur de Rhe-Philipe, Cllr Fred Westmoreland, Cllr Graham Payne, Cllr Graham Wright, Cllr Horace Prickett, Cllr Howard Greenman, Cllr Jacqui Lay, Cllr James Sheppard, Cllr Jemima Milton, Cllr Jerry Kunkler, Cllr Jerry Wickham, Cllr John Knight, Cllr John Smale, Cllr John Thomson, Cllr Jonathon Seed, Cllr Jose Green, Cllr Julian Johnson, Cllr Laura Mayes, Cllr Mark Connolly, Cllr Mary Champion, Cllr Mary Douglas, Cllr Melody Thompson, Cllr Mike Hewitt, Cllr Nina Phillips, Cllr Paul Oatway QPM, Cllr Peter Evans, Cllr Peter Hutton, Cllr Philip Whalley, Cllr Philip Whitehead, Cllr Pip Ridout, Cllr Richard Britton, Cllr Richard Clewer, Cllr Richard Gamble, Cllr Richard Tonge, Cllr Roy While, Cllr Sheila Parker, Cllr Simon Jacobs, Cllr Simon Killane, Cllr Stewart Dobson, Cllr Stuart Wheeler, Cllr Sue Evans, Cllr Toby Sturgis, Cllr Tony Deane and Cllr Tony Trotman.

 

Abstentions (0):

 

The Chairman then adjourned the meeting, for lunch, at 13:15

 

MEETING ADJOURNED

 

The Chairman reconvened the meeting at 14:05

 

The Chairman invited members to make any other amendments to the budget, but explained that the meeting may have to adjourn to consider the advice of statutory officers on any proposals moved without notice.

 

Councillor James Sheppard, subsequently seconded by Councillor Mary Douglas, proposed the following amendment:

 

            Investment

 

i)       Allocation to Area Boards for investment in pavements to £150,000: 

·           To distribute £150,000 to Area Boards for use on pavement repair and creation. This will be to target small local schemes where repair is needed to improve the quality of lives. The methodology for allocation will be discussed at scrutiny to ensure the most appropriate method is applied to ensure equity across the county.

 Funding

ii)      Reduce the budget for Professional Subscriptions, fees and conferences by £150,000:

·           In 2016/17 (with no amendments proposed for 2017/18) the Council holds a budget of £373,770 across all service budgets for the provision of payments in relation to Professional subscriptions, Professional Fees and conference attendances. Of that £147,215 is forecast to be unspent across a range of lines. Whilst that is being used to fund other spend in 2016/17 it is felt more appropriate by this amendment to Area Boards to invest in our pavements. This will retain a budget of £226,555 in these areas to fund some valuable subscriptions, including the LGA.

 

Following the presentation of the motion, and having given the group leaders an opportunity to address the motion, the Chairman then opened the amendment to general debate during which a number of points emerged: support for the principle of delegating more money to communities for pavement improvement; whether the budget proposed would be sufficient and how best to allocate the money fairly across communities.

 

Having been put the vote, the amendment was CARRIED and was recorded as follows:

 

For the amendment (77):

 

Baroness Scott of Bybrook OBE, Cllr Alan Hill, Cllr Alan MacRae, Cllr Allison Bucknell, Cllr Andrew Davis, Cllr Anna Cuthbert, Cllr Atiqul Hoque Cllr Bill Moss, Cllr Bob Jones MBE, Cllr Bridget Wayman, Cllr Charles Howard, Cllr Chris Auckland, Cllr Chris Caswill, Cllr Chris Hurst, Cllr Christopher Williams, Cllr Chuck Berry, Cllr David Jenkins, Cllr David Pollitt, Cllr Dennis Drewett, Cllr Desna Allen, Cllr Ernie Clark, Cllr Fleur de Rhe-Philipe, Cllr Fred Westmoreland, Cllr George Jeans, Cllr Glenis Ansell, Cllr Gordon King, Cllr Graham Payne, Cllr Graham Wright, Cllr Horace Prickett, Cllr Howard Greenman, Cllr Ian Mclennan, Cllr Ian West, Cllr Jacqui Lay, Cllr James Sheppard, Cllr Jamie Capp, Cllr Jerry Kunkler, Cllr Jerry Wickham, Cllr John Smale, Cllr John Thomson, Cllr John Walsh, Cllr Jon Hubbard, Cllr Jonathon Seed, Cllr Jose Green, Cllr Julian Johnson, Cllr Laura Mayes, Cllr Magnus Macdonald, Cllr Mark Connolly, Cllr Mary Champion, Cllr Mary Douglas, Cllr Melody Thompson, Cllr Mike Hewitt, Cllr Nick Fogg MBE, Cllr Nina Phillips, Cllr Pat Aves, Cllr Paul Oatway QPM, Cllr Peter Evans, llr Peter Hutton, Cllr Philip Whalley, Cllr Philip Whitehead, Cllr Pip Ridout, Cllr Richard Britton, Cllr Richard Clewer, Cllr Richard Gamble, Cllr Richard Tonge, Cllr Roy While, Cllr Russell Hawker, Cllr Sheila Parker, Cllr Simon Jacobs, Cllr Simon Killane, Cllr Stephen Oldrieve, Cllr Stewart Dobson, Cllr Stuart Wheeler, Cllr Sue Evans, Cllr Toby Sturgis, Cllr Tony Deane, Cllr Tony Trotman, Cllr Trevor Carbin 

 

Against the amendment (3):

 

Cllr Christopher Newbury, Cllr Peter Edge, Cllr Terry Chivers 

 

Abstentions (0)

 

The meeting then returned to considering the substantive motion as amended.

 

Councillor Chris Caswill expressed concern for the cuts that were being made and for the remaining £3m where actions to make savings had not yet been identified.

 

Councillor Laura Mayes explained that changes to the youth service had enabled services to be accessed by a wide range of young people and welcomed the opportunity for councillors to become more involved in the delivery of services in their community.

 

Councillor Richard Gamble defended the changes to the music service which had introduced a new method of booking services, allowing the service to save money.

 

Councillor Mark Connolly expressed concern as to the impact of council tax increases on vulnerable people.

 

Councillor Steve Oldrieve stated that he believed the short-term cuts could have long-term consequences for the community, and expressed concern as to the use of reserves

 

Councillor Jerry Wickham stated his wish to see money spent on care in community settings rather than in more costly clinical and residential institutions.

 

Councillor Chuck Berry commended the Council’s record in finding solutions to the challenges faced.

Councillor Bob Jones MBE gave examples of how cuts in services had negatively affected those in his community.

 

Councillor Chris Williams espoused the benefits of working with communities to find solutions to challenges.

 

Councillor Graham Payne made reference to the national economic picture which was at the heart of the difficult choices, and emphasised the importance of community hospital facilities in tackling social care issues.

 

Councillor Richard Clewer commended the work of Councillor Tonge and his Cabinet colleagues in producing the budget under challenging circumstances

 

Councillor Philip Whitehead stated that the bus services review had enabled money spent on costly services to be used to protect the rest of the network.

 

Councillor Toby Sturgis promoted the record in planning and the progress made in delivering a plan-led approach to development control.

 

Councillor Jonathon Seed referred to the sound financial management that had enabled good services to be delivered in leisure and libraries.

 

Councillor Glenis Ansell argued that earlier opportunities to raise council tax by modest amounts would have left the council in a more sound financial position.

 

The Leader made reference to the opportunities to innovate to enable the council to meet the challenges ahead.

 

Councillor Tonge, in response to some of the issues raised during debate, stated that the budget would support changes in the delivery of services; and that the Council was lobbying the Government, through the auspices of the Local Government Association and directly to Ministers, to better inform them of the position of local government.

 

Having been put to a recorded vote, the meeting;

Resolved

a.         To endorses the update of the Financial Plan for 2017/18 as amended.

 

b.        To approve the investment and savings proposals summarised at Sections 7 and 9 respectively of this report and at Appendix 1, to provide a net revenue budget for 2017/18 of £311.351 million.

 

c.         Voted separately:

 

          i.          To set the Council’s total net expenditure budget for 2017/18 at £311.351 million.

 

        ii.          To revise the Social Care Levy proposed to Council in October 2016 and propose a further 1% increase to 3%, with the Council Tax increase remaining in line with Council’s October decision, at 1.99%.

 

       iii.          To delegate to the Section 151 Officer in consultation with Group Leaders how to resolve any changes arising from the Final Settlement announcement, expected after Council has considered this report. It is proposed that any underfunding or additional monies will be dealt with via the General Fund Reserves.

 

       iv.          To approve the Capital programme proposed at Appendix 1E of this report.

 

        v.          To set the changes in fees and charges set out in detail at Section 8 of and at Appendix 1G of this report.

 

       vi.          To set a 1% reduction for social dwelling rents.

 

      vii.          To set the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budget for 2017/18 as set out at Appendix 1F of this report.

 

    viii.          That all other service charges related to the HRA be increased by CPI plus 1%, including garage rents.

 

A recorded vote for the above decisions was as follows:

 

For the motion (61):

 

Baroness Scott of Bybrook OBE, Cllr Alan Hill, Cllr Alan MacRae, Cllr Allison Bucknell, Cllr Andrew Davis, Cllr Anna Cuthbert, Cllr Atiqul Hoque, Cllr Bill Moss, Cllr Bridget Wayman, Cllr Charles Howard, Cllr Christopher Newbury, Cllr Christopher Williams, Cllr Chuck Berry, Cllr Dennis Drewett, Cllr Ernie Clark, Cllr Fleur de Rhe-Philipe, Cllr Fred Westmoreland, Cllr George Jeans, Cllr Graham Payne, Cllr Graham Wright, Cllr Horace Prickett, Cllr Howard Greenman, Cllr Jacqui Lay, Cllr James Sheppard, Cllr Jerry Kunkler, Cllr Jerry Wickham, Cllr John Knight, Cllr John Smale, Cllr John Thomson, Cllr Laura Mayes, Cllr Jonathon Seed, Cllr Jose Green, Cllr Julian Johnson, Cllr Mark Connolly, Cllr Mary Champion, Cllr Mary Douglas, Cllr Melody Thompson, Cllr Mike Hewitt, Cllr Nick Fogg MBE, Cllr Nina Phillips, Cllr Paul Oatway QPM, Cllr Peter Evans, Cllr Peter Hutton, Cllr Philip Whalley, Cllr Philip Whitehead, Cllr Pip Ridout, Cllr Richard Britton, Cllr Richard Clewer, Cllr Richard Gamble, Cllr Richard Tonge, Cllr Roy While, Cllr Russell Hawker, Cllr Sheila Parker, Cllr Simon Jacobs, Cllr Simon Killane, Cllr Stewart Dobson, Cllr Stuart Wheeler,Cllr Sue Evans, Cllr Toby Sturgis, Cllr Tony Deane, Cllr Tony Trotman.

 

Against the motion (16):

 

Cllr Bob Jones MBE , Clr Chris Auckland, Cllr Chris Caswill, Cllr Chris Hurst, Cllr David Jenkins, Cllr David Pollitt, Cllr Desna Allen, Cllr Glenis Ansell, Cllr Gordon King, Cllr Ian West, Cllr Jamie Capp, Cllr Jon Hubbard, Cllr Pat Aves, Cllr Peter Edge, Cllr Stephen Oldrieve, Cllr Trevor Carbin

 

Abstentions (2):

 

Cllr Ian Mclenna, Cllr John Walsh 

Supporting documents:

 

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