Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Priory House, Monks Walk, Shefford
Contact: Sandra Hobbs 0300 300 5257
Prayers were taken by Councillor Blair.
To approve the minutes of the Council meeting held on 17 January 2019.
that the minutes of the Council meeting held on 17 January 2019 be approved as a correct record.
To receive from Members any declarations of interest.
No declarations of interest were received.
Questions, Statements and Deputations
To receive any questions, statements and deputations from members of the public in accordance with the Public Participation Procedure as set out in Part 4G of the Constitution. (This session will be held at the Chairman’s discretion and will normally last no longer than 15 minutes.)
No members of the public had registered to speak.
Chairman's Announcements and Communications
The Chairman to announce any matters of communication.
Sandy Town Council and Harlington Parish Council had been mentioned in the National Association of Local Council’s publication, Points of Light, that set out a collection of case studies highlighting the work that town and parish councils were undertaking to support their communities.
Leader of the Council's Announcements and Communications
The Leader of the Council to announce any matters of communication.
The Leader highlighted the importance of setting the Council’s budget and reflected on the services that the Council delivers. Community Safety was an issue that concerned residents and the proposed budget included additional funding for this area. He also highlighted schemes that were planned as part of the budget proposal:
· M1/A6 Link Road
· dualling of the A421
· additional footpaths and cycle routes
· new school places
· improving older peoples accommodation in Ampthill, Houghton Regis, Flitwick and Biggleswade
· Health Hubs in Dunstable and Biggleswade
· new leisure facilities
· providing employment opportunities; and
· improved waste collection services.
The proposed Council Tax was for a 1% increase for 2019/20.
The Executive Member for Community Services provided an update on the motion that was passed at Council on 15 November 2018 regarding Level Crossing at Tempsford. The Chief Executive, Network Rail acknowledged that there was an issue in the Tempsford area and an additional £40,000 had been allocated for policing and patrolling areas where there was a high risk of people committing suicide. Network rail worked closely with the Samaritans and would meet with the Council to discuss improving the area.
To consider a recommendation from the meeting of the Executive, 5 February 2019 and answer questions asked under Part 4A, Rule No. 13.1 of the Council’s Procedure Rules.
(a) Budget 2019/20 and Medium Term Financial Plan
(b) Capital Programme 2019/20 to 2022/23
(c) Budget for the Housing Revenue Account (Landlord Business Plan)
(d) Treasury Management Strategy and Treasury Policy 2019/20
(e) Capital Strategy 2019/20
(f) Investment Strategy 2019/20
(g) Proposed Charges to Traded Services to Schools and Academies 2019/20
(h) Social Care, Health and Housing Fees and Charges 2019/20
(i) and to present the Council Tax resolution.
The papers for (a) to (h) can be viewed at the following link:
(a) Budget 2019/20 and Medium Term Financial Plan
The Council considered recommendations from the meeting of the Executive held on 5 February 2019, seeking approval of the proposed Revenue budget for 2019/20 and Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).
In his introduction, the Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Corporate Resources commented on the range of external factors which had influenced the proposed budget. In particular the loss of the Revenue Support Grant, 2% pay award, increase in the Living Wage, the Homelessness Act and people living longer. The Financial Settlement provided a one year grant of £1.5m to be ring-fenced for social care and £1m extra New Homes Bonus.
£14.8m of efficiencies had been identified for 2019/20 and £40m efficiencies over the MTFP period.
The Executive Member commented on the outcome of the public consultation and that the draft budget had been scrutinised by the Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee. He highlighted the statutory requirements relating to specific budget proposals, as set out in Appendix F to the Executive report.
In response to the results from the public consultation it was proposed to allocate additional funding towards:
· Community Safety
· Sustainable Transport
· Town Centre Ranger
· Community Councillor Fund
· Countryside Access
The Executive were recommending a Council Tax rise of 1%.
The Leader of the Independent Group enquired how much of the budget had been allocated towards paying pensions and hoped that the efficiencies could be achieved.
The Leader of the Labour Group commented on the demand for services and the financial pressures on families in Central Bedfordshire. She was concerned that the proposed efficiencies would impact residents, especially on children with mental health problems and learning disabilities. She felt that the Council should ensure that the budget was spent in the community. She proposed that the recommendations from the Executive be voted upon separately.
The Liberal Democrat representative recognised the work of Officers and highlighted the pressures on Councils, with the increase in homelessness, social care and the much needed increase in the Living Wage. Many residents faced loneliness and there was a need to build integrated and resilient communities. The Health and Wellbeing Board were looking to improve health and wellbeing across Central Bedfordshire, in particular mental health and reducing obesity which was higher in the areas of greatest need. She sought assurance that this would continue to be a high priority for the Council.
Other Members of the Council were invited to comment on the proposed budget.
In response to questions, the Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Corporate Resources confirmed that the percentage contributed towards pensions in 2019/20 was the same as 2018/19. It was anticipated that the budget would be underspent at the end of the financial year. Unemployment in Central Bedfordshire was low. Resources were being focused on communities in areas where there was the greatest need. The Community Councillor Fund would allow for Members to bid for funding to help with small projects within their communities.
£1m was being invested in community ... view the full minutes text for item 76.