Agenda and draft minutes

Extraordinary Council Meeting, Council
Monday, 28th September, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: This meeting will be held remotely. View directions

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

Items
No. Item

111/20

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 232 KB

To approve the minutes of the Annual Council and Council meetings held respectively on 6 and 13 July 2020 as an accurate record.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Prior to the vote on the minutes of the previous meetings, Madam Mayor informed the meeting that there were 38 Labour Members and 27 Conservative Members in attendance at that point in the meeting.

 

The minutes of the Annual Council meeting held on 6 July 2020 and the Council meeting held on 13 July 2020 were agreed as an accurate record.

 

112/20

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.

 

113/20

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 were no items of urgent business. However, Madam Mayor explained to the meeting that the Administration had withdrawn its requisition and therefore the meeting would no longer be considering Item 9 on the agenda.

 

114/20

Announcements

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

Minutes:

Madam Mayor commenced her announcements by echoing the earlier remarks made in honour of Sergeant Matt Ratana; having met with several people who had known him, Madam Mayor described how Sergeant Ratana had been a wonderful officer and a good man.

 

Councillor Perry was welcomed to his new role as the Leader of the Opposition. Mental health first aid training available to Councillors was highlighted. Madam Mayor described how since the last Council meeting, she had organised a series of socially distanced picnics at which readings had been provided by local authors. A tour of local food banks had been undertaken to meet volunteers who had supported Croydon’s vulnerable residents during the pandemic.

 

The Croydon Connect project had been launched. This would encourage children to make a giant paper chain to be displayed in the Town Hall, decorated with their experiences of the pandemic. A panel discussion seeking to break down barriers to loss would be held using Facebook on 10 October 2020. Madam Mayor also announced her first fundraising event. This would be a quiz held using Zoom on 7 November 2020.

 

The Leader was invited by Madam Mayor to make his announcement It was advised that he was working with leaders across London to respond to the pandemic. London, including Croydon, was on a heighted setting with a growing number of Covid cases. It was hoped that the issues experienced with the NHS Track and Trace system would be addressed. The importance of the Council’s own Public Health team in this work was highlighted.

 

115/20

Arrangements for the Appointment to Interim Head of Paid Service pdf icon PDF 123 KB

To consider the recommendation made by the Appointments Committee with regard to the appointment to Interim Head of Paid Service.

Minutes:

Invited by Madam Mayor, the Leader moved the recommendation in the report relating to the appointment of the Head of the Paid Service, Returning Officer and Electoral Registration Officer. Councillor Perry seconded the motion.

 

The recommendation was put to the vote and approved unanimously. Madam Mayor expressed a warm welcome to Katherine Kerswell, the Head of the Paid Service, Returning Officer and Electoral Registration Officer, on behalf of Members of Council.

 

116/20

Croydon Renewal Plan and amendments to the 2020/21 General Fund Budget pdf icon PDF 330 KB

For Members to receive the recommendations from Cabinet relating to the Croydon Renewal Plan and the Financial Performance Report – Quarter 1 June 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Madam Mayor explained to Members of Council that this item concerned the Croydon Renewal Plan, amendments to the 2020/21 General Fund Budget and the revised Capital Programme which had been recommended to Council by Cabinet. Both Groups were thanked for their work in reaching a cross-party agreement on the process for considering the item.

 

Presentation

 

The Director of Finance, Investment and Risk (and Section 151 Officer) gave a presentation to Council on the budget matters for consideration. This commenced with a review of the Council’s financial circumstances.  Spending by each department during 2019/20 was detailed with growth and savings/income provided. This demonstrated that the two highest spending departments were Children, Families and Education and Health, Wellbeing and Adults, with a combined budget of just under £200m. Further facts and figures were provided on the Council’s budget including that this comprised spending of £177m annually on staff, £522m on contracts and supplies, total debt of £1.5bn with £26m being spent annually on servicing debt. How the Council’s income was drawn from Council Tax and Business rates was outlined along with information provided on the Council’s General Fund and Earmarked Reserves.

 

The measures being taken to address the Council’s financial situation were presented including the work of the Financial Review Panel, the immediate short term measures programme, the financial report taken to Cabinet in July 2020, the work being undertaken to refresh the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and the conversations being had with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). It was clarified that a plan had to be submitted to MHCLG detailing the Council’s funding for 2020/21 and future years.

 

The overspend to the end of August 2020 was stated at £50.3m representing lost income, unachieved savings, Covid related and exceptional cost on items such as Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC). The overspend was being addressed by £27.9m of in-year savings which had been presented to and agreed by Cabinet. This included savings arising from the reduction in staffing numbers which was expected to provide up to £15m of savings in subsequent years. However, caution was expressed with work ongoing to deliver the identified savings as some were still rated as amber and red.

 

This meant £22.4m of overspending remained. Risks and the limitations of the Council’s financial resilience were highlighted. It was stressed that the budget gap could worsen. The £8m adjustment to the 2019/20 accounts was still to be agreed and it was noted that the auditor has raised concerns about the treatment of the accounts. It was possible that the Council’s spending on Covid related costs would increase especially with the noted rise in cases happening at the time of the meeting. There might also be changes to Government legislation which would have a financial impact on the Council’s budget. The example of Covid marshals was given.

 

It was clarified for Members of Council that the Chief Financial Officer was under a statutory obligation to issue a Section 114 Notice where the Council was incurring  ...  view the full minutes text for item 116/20

117/20

Matter for Consideration by Council

Following the receipt of a requisition signed by Members of the Council, Madame Mayor has agreed that an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council should be held.

 

The requisition states:

 

"This Council has no confidence in Councillor Tony Newman and Councillor Simon Hall and calls for their immediate resignation."

Minutes:

Madam Mayor informed Council that a requisition signed by five Members of Council had been received and that she had agreed that an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council could be held.

 

Madam Mayor read the requisition:

 

“This Council has no confidence in Councillor Tony Newman and Councillor Simon Hall and calls for their immediate resignation.”

 

Madam Mayor invited Councillor Perry to propose the motion.

 

Councillor Perry explained that there was no confidence in the Leader and Councillor Hall. They had brought Croydon to the brink of bankruptcy and needed to be removed before they did more damage. It was described how they had sought to deflect and blame others. In fact, the Administration’s own motion doing exactly that had been withdrawn at the last minute from the agenda for the meeting. The Leader and Councillor Hall had doubled Council debt which stood at £1.5bn and had increased by £15K for every hour they had been in charge. Their only solution to this situation was to borrow even more money.

 

It was highlighted that all Councils had faced the same pressures and impact from Covid, but that it was Croydon that had been found wanting and residents would be paying for years to come. Councillor Perry questioned why so much borrowing had happened, describing how this had been used for a spending spree to buy failing assets rather putting money into the Council’s reserves that might have allowed the storm of Covid to be weathered.

 

Money had been loaned to Brick By Brick which was described as a loss making company that had failed to deliver social housing and was not making interest payments to the Council. Whilst Brick By Brick had claimed to have made a profit no accounts had been published allowing this to be verified.  Brick By Brick was being funded by the Council to build on the borough’s valuable green spaces which were being sold for a little as £1. Intensification was reducing space in Croydon and making it a developers’ paradise. This was at a time when green spaces were needed for health and wellbeing. This was in addition to the impact of the reduction of green spaces on the environment at a time when the Leader had made a commitment to the climate change agenda.

 

Croydon was described as being in decline and being brought down by the Leader and Councillor Hall. Fly-tipping had increased, recycling rates had stalled, streets were dirty with ingrained mess and businesses, at a time of extra challenge, were facing having to encourage shopping in decay. The Labour Administration had seen the loss of inward investment and business rate revenues. It would be very different if the opportunities had not been squandered. Councillor Perry stated that the Leader and Councillor Hall needed to be removed from office as they could not be trusted to deliver. Their mismanagement could not be tolerated any longer. Councillor Perry stated that Croydon deserved better and called for support from across the parties for the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 117/20

118/20

Matter for Consideration by Council

Following the receipt of a requisition signed by Members of the Council, Madame Mayor has agreed that an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council should be held.

 

The requisition states:

 

“This Council notes that 10 years of austerity, the freezing of funding formulae and welfare reform has had a dramatic impact on the Council's funding, with a reduction of over £100million per year in that funding. It calls on Government to honour its pledge to fund in full our Covid-19 costs, direct and indirect, where there is currently a shortfall in excess of £70 million. Further, it calls on Government to work with us to ensure a fair funding deal for Croydon that recognises the huge demographic shift over the last decade which means that, although we are an Outer London borough, our needs are akin to a traditional Inner London Borough.”

Minutes:

This item was withdrawn.

119/20

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.