Agenda and minutes

Budget Council, Council
Monday, 2nd March, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX. View directions

Contact: Annette Wiles 020 872 6000 x64877  Email: annette.wiles@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

82/20

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 221 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2020 as an accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the Council meeting held on 27 January 2020 were agreed as a true and accurate record.

 

83/20

Disclosure of Interests

In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.

 

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of pecuniary interests. Members confirmed their disclosure of interest forms were accurate and up-to-date.

 

84/20

Urgent Business (if any)

To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

 

85/20

Announcements

To receive the Announcements, if any, from the Mayor, the Leader, Head of Paid Service and Returning Officer.

Minutes:

Madam Deputy Mayor

 

Madam Deputy Mayor, Councillor Henson, informed Council she was deputising in the absence of the Mayor, Councillor Kabir. The forthcoming Our Croydon concert, happening at 6pm on Wednesday 11 March 2020 at the Fairfield Halls, was highlighted. Tickets were available from the venue. Madam Deputy Mayor congratulated Norbury Manor Business and Enterprise College on being the runner-up in the Jack Petchey Perfect Pitch Awards.

 

The Leader

 

Madam Deputy Mayor, invited the Leader, Councillor Newman to make his announcements. The Leader informed Council that the Croydon Partnership had issued a statement earlier in the day regarding the development of the Whitgift Centre and called for the reaffirmation of the commitment to the development to be recorded in the minutes. The Leader described how the development was subject to on-going review with the partners remaining committed to the delivery of a dynamic town centre. This was good news for Croydon during an era of Brexit and retail change.

 

The Leader expressed his personal thanks to Paula Murray, Creative Director, for her work on the London Borough of Culture bid before giving way to Councillor Lewis, the Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport to comment further. The Cabinet Member informed Council that on 11 February 2020, Croydon has been named as the London Borough of Culture 2023. Pride in having lead the bidding team was expressed and thanks given to Paula Murray and the other members of her culture team (Chetna Kapacee, Paul Hudson, Marcus Harris and Marie Rose-Tulley). Councillor Lewis also thanked the cultural partners from across the Borough that had supported the bid and without whom the bid would not have been successful. The London Borough of Culture trophy was presented to Paula Murray with Madam Deputy Mayor expressing her own thanks to all those involved.

 

86/20

Council Tax and Budget pdf icon PDF 352 KB

a)    Questions to the Leader

To last for a total of 15 minutes, the first three minutes available for announcements from the Leader.

 

b)   Questions to the Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources

To last for a total of 15 minutes, the first three minutes available for announcements from the Cabinet Member.

 

c)    Scrutiny Business Report

To last for a total of 10 minutes, the first two minutes available for announcements from the Chair of Scrutiny and Overview Committee.

 

d)   Council Tax Debate

The mover of the budget recommendations shall have 10 minutes to speak, followed by the Leader of the Opposition who shall have 10 minutes to speak. There shall then be five further Members from each group called to speak for no more than three minutes each. The debate shall conclude with a right of reply from the Leader of the Council or other Cabinet Member for not more than five minutes.

 

At the conclusion of the debate the following recommendations will be taken through a recorded vote:

 

               i.        A 1.99% increase in the Council Tax for Croydon Services (a level of increase Central Government has assumed in all Councils’ spending power calculation).

 

              ii.        A 2.00% increase in the Adult Social Care precept (a charge Central Government has assumed all councils’ will levy in its spending power calculations).

 

            iii.        The GLA increase of 3.6%.

 

With reference to the principles for 2020/21 determined by the Secretary of State under Section52ZC (1) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (as amended) confirm that in accordance with s.52ZB (1) the Council Tax and GLA precept referred to above are not excessive in terms of the most recently issued principles and as such to note that no referendum is required. This is detailed further in section 3.5 of the covering report (at Appendix 6.1).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Questions to the Leader

 

Madam Deputy Mayor explained that the Council Tax and budget item would commence with questions to the Leader, Councillor Newman, for a total of 15 minutes.

 

The Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Tim Pollard, noted the funding in the budget for Brick By Brick for this and future years. Clarification was sought on how it was possible to be confident that the budget was on a safe footing when the detail of the Brick By Brick funding remained confidential for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

 

In response, the Leader stated that he would not be proposing the budget if he was not confident in it and those who had provided advice on it. It was stressed that Councillor Tim Pollard had access to the budget documentation and that whilst this might not give him all the information he wanted a judgement had to be made whether to trust advice from officials.

 

In his supplementary question, Councillor Tim Pollard described how the Council was putting all its eggs in a secretive basket. It was noted that the Council was the sole Brick By Brick shareholder meaning that with no other party involved in the scheme no one else had knowledge of its operation. The Leader stressed that Brick By Brick had been subject to extensive scrutiny including at Cabinet and through the Scrutiny and Overview Committee. It was also noted that the support for Brick By Brick in the budget was the same as in 2019/20 and that the Opposition had voted in support of this.

 

Councillor Chowdhury gave thanks to the Leader and his team for the budget and asked how this would be fully resources if further grant cuts were made by Government.

 

In response, the Leader agreed the Government’s budget, anticipated on 11 March 2020, needed to address the social care funding crisis. The Leader described how the Council’s budget was being set against a backdrop of uncertainty which had grown since the General Election.

 

Councillor Chowdhury took the opportunity of his supplementary question to compliment Councillor Hall, the Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources, on his managing of the Council’s budget. Councillor Chowdhury expressed his concerns regarding the management of the Home Office, the Council not being given sufficient funding by Government, the influence of the Prime Minister’s special adviser and the imminent impact of Brexit. The Leader agreed that all these factors were feeding into national uncertainty and that this was being equally felt by leaders of Conservative Councils.

 

Councillor Millson noted that there was around £800m in the revenue budget and that this gave the Council enormous power to change lives. It was asked if the Leader applauded authorities, including Labour authorities that were doing less with more.

 

In response, the Leader described how he applauded the efforts of other councils and described the work being done by Croydon including initiatives such as the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls. It was stressed that all councils were operating against the toughest financial backdrop ever.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 86/20

87/20

Recommendations of Cabinet referred to Council for decision pdf icon PDF 331 KB

To consider the recommendations made by Cabinet since the last ordinary Council Meeting:

 

1.1.Treasury Management Strategy Statement, Capital Strategy, Minimum Revenue Provision Policy Statement and Annual Investment Strategy 2020/2021

 

1.2.Quarter 3 Financial Performance 2019/20

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.     Treasury Management Strategy Statement

 

Madam Deputy Mayor invited Councillor Hall, the Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources to move the recommendations referred by Cabinet on 24 February 2020 related to the Treasury Management Strategy Statement, Capital Strategy, Minimum Revenue Provision Policy Statement and Annual Investment Strategy 2020/21. The Cabinet Member highlighted the forecast borrowings evolution noting that this was for the provision of essential services, the development of Bernard Weatherill House and to build schools that were not properly funded. The level of debt was necessitated by the reduction in Council income streams. Borrowing would also be used to invest and generate additional income for the Council.

 

The recommendations were seconded by Councillor Patsy Cummings and Madam Deputy Mayor put the recommendations to the vote.

 

RESOLVED: Council AGREED the recommendations in the report:

 

1.1.          Approved the Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2020/21 as set out in the covering report (at Appendix 7.1) including the recommendations:

 

1.1.1.     That the Council takes up borrowing requirements as set out in paragraph 4.5 of the covering report (at Appendix 7.1).

 

1.1.2.     That for the reasons detailed in paragraph 4.14 of the covering report (at Appendix 7.1), opportunities for debt rescheduling are reviewed throughout the year by the Director of Finance, Investment and Risk (S151 Officer) and that she be given delegated authority, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources and in conjunction with the Council’s independent treasury advisers, to undertake such rescheduling only if revenue savings or additional cost avoidance can be achieved at minimal risk in line with organisational considerations and with regard to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) as set out in the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019/2023.

 

1.1.3.     That delegated authority be given to the Director of Finance, Investment and Risk (S151 Officer), in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, to make any necessary decisions to protect the Council’s financial position in light of market changes or investment risk exposure.

 

1.2.          That the Council adopts the Annual Investment Strategy as set out in paragraphs 4.16 and 4.17 of the covering report (at Appendix 7.1).

 

1.3.          That the Authorised Limit (required by Section 3 of the Local Government Act 2003) as set out in paragraph 4.10 of the covering report (Appendix 7.1) and as detailed in Appendix 7.1C be as follows:

 

2020/2021

£1,935.847m

2021/2022

£2,017.896m

2022/2023

£2,062.164m

 

1.1.          That the Council approved the Prudential Indicators as set out in Appendix 7.1C.

 

1.2.          The Annual Minimum Revenue Provision Policy Statement (required by the Local Authorities (Capital Financing and Accounting) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2008SI 2008/414) as set out in Appendix 7.1D of this report.

 

1.3.          That the Council’s authorised counterparty lending list as at 31st December 2019 as set out in Appendix 7.1E of this report and the rating criteria set for inclusion onto this list be approved.

 

1.4.          That the Council adopts the Capital Strategy Statement set out in section 3 of the covering report (at Appendix 7.1).

 

2.     Quarter 3 Financial Performance

 

Madame Deputy Mayor  ...  view the full minutes text for item 87/20

88/20

Governance Review Panel pdf icon PDF 281 KB

For Members to receive the Panel’s final report, consider its recommendations and proposals for their implementation.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Deputy Madam Mayor invited Dame Moira Gibb to make her presentation regarding the work of the Governance Review Panel. In inviting Dame Moira to speak, Madam Deputy Mayor thanked her for her outstanding work on the Governance Review Panel and presented her with a gift on behalf of Council.

 

Dame Moira provided Council with an introduction to the Governance Review Panel and its work. She noted that her role had been as an Independent Chair and that the panel had also had an Independent Member (Anne Smith). It was highlighted that the panel had found the Council’s governance arrangements fit for purpose encompassed by a robust written framework. Whilst abiding by the rules was straightforward, the spirit of the governance arrangements were harder to achieve against a challenging backdrop and within political realities. The review had found that Councillor knowledge was not put to best use and residents felt excluded from the decision-making process.

 

Overall the review had made 11 recommendations under four main themes. The review had focused on culture which had been found to be more important than structure. This was crucial for building a trusting relationship with residents and enabling all parts of the Council to work together to make more than the sum of its parts. Without the right culture it would be difficult to get other aspects right.

 

Additionally, all Members needed to be given the right support to be effective. The existing decision-making structure had been found to support ambitions and therefore it had been determined that a return to the committee system was not part of the answer. However, new advisory committees were recommended to help inform decisions and engage residents in the process.

 

Dame Moira reported how the panel had done a very good job in creating a coherent approach. However, putting this into effect would be more challenging. Dame Moira called on Council to support the work of the implementation group. Thanks was given to the supporting officers without whom Dame Moira stressed the review would not have been achieved and who would be crucial to the implementation phase.

 

Deputy Madam Mayor then called forward members of the Governance Review Panel to comment on its work, report, recommendations and implementation.

 

Councillor Collins described his pleasure in having supported the panel and its work. The Cabinet Member noted that he had served as a Croydon Councillor for 27 years and that the Governance Review Panel had been one of the very best examples of cross party participation he had experienced. Thanks was given to Councillors Perry, Redfern, Chatterjee and Roche for their contribution. The recommendations were described as open, transparent and engaging with Councillor Collins stating it was time for a 21st century approach characterised by vibrancy and the engagement of residents. Decision-making was best when all Councillors were allowed to be involved and were able to reflect on the views of their residents and wards. Councillor Collins envisaged a Council that shared positivity and was prepared to debate in public.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 88/20

89/20

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The following motion is to be moved and seconded where it is proposed to exclude the press and public from the remainder of a meeting:

 

“That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within those paragraphs indicated in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.”

 

Minutes:

This item was not required.