Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Resources - Thursday, 11th July, 2024 7.00 pm, NEW

Venue: Council Chamber, Millmead House, Millmead, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4BB. View directions

Contact: James Dearling, Tel no: 01483 444141 Email:  james.dearling@guildford.gov.uk 

Media

Items
No. Item

OSR6

Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitute Members

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee was advised of apologies from Councillors Phil Bellamy, Honor Brooker, Masuk Miah, and Katie Steel.  Councillors Bilal Akhtar and Joanne Shaw attended as substitutes for Councillors Honor Brooker and Phil Bellamy respectively.

OSR7

Local Code of Conduct and Declaration of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

In accordance with the local Code of Conduct, a councillor is required to disclose at the meeting any Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (DPI) that they may have in respect of any matter for consideration on this agenda. Any councillor with a DPI must not participate in any discussion or vote regarding that matter and they must withdraw from the meeting immediately before consideration of the matter.

 

If that DPI has not been registered, the councillor must notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of the DPI within 28 days of the date of the meeting.

 

Councillors are further invited to disclose any non-pecuniary interest which may be relevant to any matter on this agenda, in the interests of transparency, and to confirm that it will not affect their objectivity in relation to that matter.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interests.

OSR8

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 94 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Committee meeting held on 4 June 2024.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 4 June 2024 were approved.

OSR9

Development of a new Corporate Strategy (2024-2034) pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Lead Councillor for Community and Organisational Development introduced the item.  She indicated that the draft Corporate Strategy was the result of several months of work by the Executive and officers.  The Lead Councillor for Community and Organisational Development advised the meeting that the Strategy was the key strategic document for the Council and set out the Council’s priorities for the next 10 years and provided a focus for all the Council’s work.  She indicated that central to the new Strategy was the vision ‘To make Guildford borough a thriving place to live, work and do business.’

 

The Lead Councillor for Community and Organisational Development gave an overview of the Strategy’s five key priorities: a more sustainable Borough, a more prosperous Borough, a more inclusive Borough, decent and affordable homes, and a resilient and well-managed Council. The Committee was informed that the version of the Strategy circulated to the Committee for comment was in draft form, with elements such as the design and photography to be finalised.  The Lead Councillor for Community and Organisational Development confirmed that feedback from both of the Council’s overview and scrutiny committees would be considered by the Executive on 15 July and the adoption of the Strategy would be determined by full Council on 23 July.

 

The Chief Executive Officer thanked the officers who had helped prepare the draft Corporate Strategy.  He advised the Committee of the planned delivery of the Strategy and its link to the Council’s budget setting process, together with how the Strategy would inform individual service delivery and form the basis for individual staff objectives and annual appraisals. 

 

The Chief Executive Officer advised that implementation of the delivery plan would be tracked at the corporate level through the quarterly Corporate Performance Report, which both overview and scrutiny committees would review.  He stated that the Council’s suite of key performance indicators was being refreshed ahead of the Quarter One report to ensure alignment with the priorities set out in the draft Strategy.

 

The Chief Executive Officer stated that a Guildford-based graphic design company was undertaking the design of the Strategy document.

 

During the ensuing discussion, Councillors raised a number of queries and made suggestions to improve the draft Strategy:

 

·       In response to a question on possible extra staffing capacity for the Council’s organisational development service, the Chief Executive Officer advised the Committee that this would be unknown until the budget setting process and the allocation of resources had occurred.

 

·       A member of the Committee asked for details of the communications and consultations planned to engage with local community groups.  The Chief Executive Officer referred to the importance of residents being able to engage with the Council and stated that the process of engagement was central to the development of the corporate delivery plan.  He indicated that efforts would be made to reach seldom heard groups as part of future consultations.

 

·       A member of the Committee indicated that the evidence and analysis behind the draft Strategy was not provided in the report submitted  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSR9

OSR10

Medium Term Financial Plan Update pdf icon PDF 101 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Lead Councillor for Finance and Property introduced the item, advising the meeting of the financial progress achieved over the previous twelve months. 

 

The Assistant Director, Finance, contrasted the Council’s current position to the Council’s financial situation when the Budget for 2024-25 was set.  The meeting was reminded that the Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) update report provided detail of the process for developing the 2025-26 Budget and MTFP.  The Assistant Director, Finance, advised that the unaudited draft accounts for 2023-24 had been published by the statutory deadline of 31 May.  She referred to the adverse and positive variances in the budget outturn for 2023-24 and advised that a more detailed report of the key variances would be provided to the Committee’s September meeting.  The Assistant Director, Finance, referred to the use of £1m of the General Fund underspend on one-off expenditure, and the breakdown of usable reserves and usable but earmarked reserves within the report. 

 

The Committee was informed that since publication of the draft accounts for 2023-24 the Council had received a £3.8m VAT refund from HMRC which would significantly improve the reported outturn figures.

 

The Assistant Director, Finance, summarised the funding assumptions, economic outlook, ongoing and one-off budget changes, and budget timetable as presented in the report submitted to the Committee.

 

The Chair questioned why only one of the four financial reports scheduled for the meeting had been submitted.  The Assistant Director, Finance, apologised and advised that the three reports outstanding would be provided to the next meeting of the Committee.

 

In response to questions, the Assistant Director, Finance, undertook to provide financial training for Committee members.  In addition, she advised the Committee of plans for IT renewals and the requirement to replace car park machinery. 

 

In reply to questions, the Assistant Director, Finance, explained the background to the £3.8m VAT refund from HMRC.  The Lead Councillor for Finance and Property stated that the Council was £300m in debt and, assuming successful implementation of the asset disposal programme, was projected to be £450m in debt by the end of the decade.

 

In reply to a query about uncovering further efficiency gains in services, the Lead Councillor for Finance and Property indicated that much of the financial recovery plan was based on finding efficiency gains.  He stated that many opportunities for better ways of working would arise from the Council’s partnership with Waverley Borough Council.

 

A member of the Committee asked how likely improvements were in the adverse key variances identified in the report.  The Assistant Director, Finance, indicated that there were plans to minimise or reduce adverse key variances going forward.

 

In reply to questions from the Chair, the Assistant Director, Finance, clarified that the £2.3m deficit from 2023-24 did not get rolled forward, confirmed the £4.1m underspend on the General Fund, and explained the difference between usable reserves in the General Fund that could be re-prioritised by the Council and reserves in the General Fund that were earmarked for a particular purpose.  The Assistant Director,  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSR10