Agenda and minutes

Budget, Council
Thursday, 18th February, 2016 8.00 pm

Venue: Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham, RG40 1BN

Contact: Anne Hunter  Service Manager, Democratic Services

Items
No. Item

64.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted from Alistair Auty, Laura Blumenthal, Gary Cowan, Nicky Jerrome, Julian McGhee-Sumner, Nick Ray, Chris Singleton and Paul Swaddle.

65.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 420 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 19 November 2015.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 19 November 2015 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.

66.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest

Minutes:

Councillor Tom McCann declared a Personal Interest on the grounds that his daughter was employed by a company involved in the marketing of the Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration Project.

67.

Public Question Time

To answer any public questions

 

A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to ask questions submitted under notice.

 

The Council welcomes questions from members of the public about the work of the Council

 

Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Council or an item which is on the Agenda for this meeting.  For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact the Democratic Services Section on the numbers given below or go to www.wokingham.gov.uk/publicquestions

Minutes:

In accordance with the agreed procedure the Mayor invited members of the public to submit questions to the appropriate Members.

 

67.1

Mel Horton asked the Executive Member for Regeneration and Communities the following question;

 

Question

Will the Council review their decision to appropriate the land at Elms Field in the light of 1,500 signatures demonstrating that the land at Elms Field is still required by the community for its current purpose?

Minutes:

Question

Will the Council review their decision to appropriate the land at Elms Field in the light of 1,500 signatures demonstrating that the land at Elms Field is still required by the community for its current purpose?

 

Answer

The short answer is no. In 2004 the Council embarked on the process of producing a Local Plan to identify how local growth would be best accommodated across the Borough. This process involved several years of research and studies looking at the local area and its infrastructure, both current and required.

 

Extensive research and review was undertaken as part of this process which led to the adoption of documents such as the Core Strategy, Managing Development Delivery document, and supplementary planning documents such as those for the North and South Wokingham Strategic Development Locations and Wokingham Town Centre.

 

All of these documents have been the result of extensive consultation with residents, local businesses, developers and, in regards to the Local Plan core documents, have undergone Examination In Public by the Planning Inspectorate prior to adoption.

 

These documents clearly identify the level of local growth required and where it should be located within the area, including the town centre sites which are being addressed through the Council’s regeneration. This is summarised in Policy SAL08 of the MDD which lists Peach Place, Elms Field and the Carnival Pool areas as Allocated Mixed Use Sites.

 

The Appropriation of Elms Field in 2007 was a part of this long process of delivering the infrastructure required for the Borough. It was a formal legal process which has already been completed and will not be reversed.

 

The Council has a responsibility to all its residents, both those who are living here now and those who will be living here in the future.

 

We need to ensure that Wokingham has the right infrastructure in place to support a great quality of life, providing people with everything they need from top quality school places and sports facilities, to entertainment facilities and an improved retail experience, to country parks and play areas. 

 

Our proposals for Elms Field show how we are committed to achieving a great town centre experience for our residents.

 

 Supplementary Question

Is the Council satisfied that, whilst they have followed the correct legal process to complete the appropriation of the land at Elms Field, they have also acted in a morally correct way, as will be judged by all the people of Wokingham who have signed the petition and others calling for the land to be maintained as public open space and facilities. And, indeed, by the Ellison family themselves, who left this land for the enjoyment of the people of Wokingham and not for it to become the Elms Field cashpoint, as Members of the Council openly refer to it; and not to be turned into an Aldi supermarket and a Premier Inn which adds no value to anyone in Wokingham as far as the community are concerned?

 

Supplementary Answer

That is quite a statement. The Elms  ...  view the full minutes text for item 67.1

67.2

Clive Jones asked the Leader of the Council the following question;

Minutes:

Question

Having gone through the 10 Year Capital Vision on pages 93-96 of the Medium Term Financial Plan, I could find no reference to any money being spent on anything in Earley at all for the next 10 years.  Can you please tell how much you are planning to invest in Earley?

 

Answer

First of all can I explain the context of the Capital Programme contained within the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan. This is a plan for the Borough and not a plan for the towns and parishes. Therefore, it will generally not link any expenditure or indeed savings to any particular parish or town area. This is especially so for the Borough-wide items in the capital plan like the replacement of street lights or highways maintenance.

 

The Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) will become less detailed as you go further out in this 10 year period. Who knows what the landscape might be then? Who might actually be on this Council by then? So it would be difficult to provide an answer to your question beyond the 3 year period identified in the MTFP pages 26 through 28.

 

If you look at page 27, the top graph, you will see where the funding for the Capital Programme comes from. Increasingly the funding for our Capital Programme will be coming from housing developments. As this happens that money, be it S106 or CIL, will be expected to be spent on infrastructure in the areas taking the housing. 37% of the total 10 year capital budget is already designated to be spent in those areas. I am sure you will agree with me that if an area takes nearly 3,000 houses then they deserve the improved infrastructure to mitigate against them. Unfortunately, and I am sure you will agree with me, Earley is practically “full” which means the volume of new houses built there is very small and therefore the funding for capital projects there will be quite limited.

 

Looking at the Borough wide items in the programme clearly Earley will get their fair share of investment through them. Whilst it is impractical to itemise every little bit of expenditure at town level a good approximation is the Earley tax base as a percentage of the total tax base. So when that is applied to the 10 year total minus the ring-fenced items associated with the new houses you get an estimated spend of £80 million or 18% of the total 10 year programme.

 

I would also like to stress that even where capital investment is made outside the area of Earley, it will be of benefit to the residents of Earley. This may be the provision of vital road links or the provision of school places in nearby schools.

 

Supplementary Question

The regeneration of Wokingham town centre was supposed to generate money that could be spent in other areas like Earley, Woodley and Twyford to help with their regeneration. How much profit are you expecting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 67.2

68.

Petitions

To receive any petitions which Members or members of the public wish to present.

Minutes:

The following member of the public presented a petition in relation to the matter indicated.

 

The Mayor’s decision as to the action to be taken is set out against the petition.

 

Nicola Greenwood

Nicola Greenwood presented a petition of 1,203 signatures, on behalf of Wokingham Bridleway Group, requesting that 30% of the Borough’s Rights of Way network be bridleway/suitable for horse rider use by 2030.

 

To be forwarded to the Executive Member for Environment.

 

 

69.

Mayor's Announcements

To receive any announcements by the Mayor

Minutes:

The Mayor informed Members of a number of visits he had made before Xmas and recent visits to schools as part of Careers Week. The Mayor also stated that the Mayor’s Golf Day, supporting the ARC Charity, would be held on 19 May 2016. Members were encouraged to enter teams for the event.

70.

Medium Term Financial Plan Associated Reports

Minutes:

The Council considered four reports which together comprised a single Agenda item:

 

·         the Housing Revenue Account Budget 2016/19 as set out on Agenda pages 35 to 46;

·         the Capital Programme and Strategy 2016/19 as set out on Agenda pages 47 to 58;

·         the Treasury Management Strategy 2016/19 as set out on Agenda pages 59 to 104;

·         the Medium Term Financial Plan 2016/19 – Revenue Budget Submission on Agenda pages 105 to 108, subject to the tabled statutory resolution, Updated Parish Precepts 2016/17 and Updated Council Tax by Band and Parish 2016/17.

 

The Mayor reminded Members that a total of 90 minutes would be set aside for debate.

 

Keith Baker, Leader of the Council, made a statement on the 2016/17 budget, together with his budget proposals (attached at Appendix 1 to these Minutes).

 

Following his statement, Councillor Baker proposed that the recommendation under Item 66.2, Capital Programme and Strategy 2016/19, be amended as follows:

 

Replace the existing recommendation under 66.2 with the following:

 

The Council approve the Capital Programme and Strategy for 2016/19 subject to the 2017/18 and 2018/19 Capital Programme budgets for Car Park Entry/Exit Barriers being reduced to zero pending further review.

 

The proposed amendment was seconded by Councillor Anthony Pollock.

 

The proposed amendment was put to the vote and was declared by the Mayor to have been carried.

 

Councillor Baker then proposed that the recommendation under Item 66.4, Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) 2016/19, be amended as follows:

 

Replace the existing recommendation under 66.4 with the following:

 

Council is recommended to approve:

1)      the Medium Term Financial Plan for 2016/19, including the Revenue Budget submission for 2016/17 subject to the following adjustments:

 

(a)  the introduction of Transitionary Grant of £2.1m in 2016/17 and 2017/18 following the final Local Government Finance Settlement announcement;

(b)  the 2017/18 and 2018/19 Capital Programme budgets for Car Park Entry/Exit Barriers be reduced to zero pending further review;

(c)  the provisional precept figure for Arborfield, Earley, Winnersh and Woodley to be amended to final figures;

(d)  the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority precept to be included at £4,043,906.

 

2)      The Statutory Resolution, incorporating the above amendments, that sets out the 2016/17 Council tax levels, as set out in Appendix A to the report.

 

The proposed amendment was seconded by Councillor Anthony Pollock.

 

The proposed amendment was put to the vote (the Mayor reminded the Council that under “The Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014” Councils were required to hold recorded votes in relation to Council Tax decisions.

 

Consequently, a recorded vote was taken on the proposed amendment.

 

FOR

AGAINST

ABSTAINED

Mark Ashwell

 

Parry Batth

Keith Baker

 

Bob Pitts

Chris Bowring

 

 

Prue Bray

 

 

UllaKarin Clark

 

 

Lindsay Ferris

 

 

Michael Firmager

 

 

Mike Gore

 

 

Guy Grandison

 

 

Kate Haines

 

 

Mike Haines

 

 

Charlotte Haitham Taylor

 

 

Pauline Helliar-Symons

 

 

Tim Holton

 

 

Philip Houldsworth

 

 

John Jarvis

 

 

Norman Jorgensen

 

 

Pauline Jorgensen

 

 

John Kaiser

 

 

Dianne King

 

 

Tom McCann

 

 

Philip Mirfin

 

 

Stuart Munro

 

 

Barrie Patman

 

 

Ian Pittock

 

 

Anthony Pollock

 

 

Malcolm Richards

 

 

Angus Ross

 

 

Beth Rowland

 

 

Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey

 

 

David Sleight

 

 

Chris Smith

 

 

Wayne  ...  view the full minutes text for item 70.

71.

Adjournment of the Meeting

Minutes:

At 8.40pm the meeting was adjourned to allow consideration of Councillor Bray’s amendment.

72.

Re-commencement of Meeting

Minutes:

At 8.44pm the meeting recommenced.

73.

Medium Term Financial Plan Associated Reports (Continued)

Minutes:

After debate, Councillor Bray’s proposed amendment to the substantive recommendation under Item 66.4 was put to the vote. In accordance with the Regulations specified earlier in the meeting a recorded vote was taken on the proposed amendment.

 

For

Against

Abstained

Prue Bray

Mark Ashwell

Parry Batth

Lindsay Ferris

Keith Baker

Bob Pitts

Tom McCann

Chris Bowring

 

Beth Rowland

David Chopping

 

Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey

UllaKarin Clark

 

 

Mike Gore

 

 

Guy Grandison

 

 

Kate Haines

 

 

Mike Haines

 

 

Charlotte Haitham Taylor

 

 

Pauline Helliar-Symons

 

 

Tim Holton

 

 

Philip Houldsworth

 

 

John Jarvis

 

 

Norman Jorgensen

 

 

Pauline Jorgensen

 

 

John Kaiser

 

 

Dianne King

 

 

Abdul Loyes

 

 

Ken Miall

 

 

Philip Mirfin

 

 

Stuart Munro

 

 

Barrie Patman

 

 

Ian Pittock

 

 

Anthony Pollock

 

 

Malcolm Richards

 

 

Angus Ross

 

 

David Sleight

 

 

Chris Smith

 

 

Wayne Smith

 

 

Bill Soane

 

 

Rob Stanton

 

 

Alison Swaddle

 

 

Simon Weeks

 

 

Bob Wyatt

 

 

Shahid Younis

 

 

Following the recorded vote the Mayor declared that the amendment had not been carried. The debate on the substantive items continued.

73.1

Housing Revenue Account Budget 2016/19 pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To consider the recommendations of the Executive in respect of the Housing Revenue Account budget for 2016/19.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  Council be recommended to approve :

 

1)         The Housing Revenue Account Budget;

 

2)         Council house dwelling rents be reduced by 1% effective from 1 April 2016 in line with the Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015, (subject to confirmation of the statutory starting date);

 

3)         Garage rents be increased by 1.1% effective from 1 April 2016 in line with Council fees and charges;

 

4)         It be noted that a review of the Shared Equity Rents in 2011 had determined that rents had been kept artificially low in previous years and not increased in line with the terms of the leases.  Therefore rents for shared equity properties have been gradually increased above inflation for four years to bring the rents in line by 1 April 2016.  The increase for 2016/17 and future years will be based on RPI, and is estimated to be approximately 1% in 2016/17;

 

5)         Tenant Service Charges are set in line with estimated costs;

 

6)         The Housing Major Repairs (capital) programme for 2016/17 as set out in Appendix C.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was proposed by the Leader of the Council and seconded by Councillor Anthony Pollock that the recommendations as set out on Agenda page 35 be approved.

 

Upon being put to the vote it was:

 

RESOLVED: That

1)      the Housing Revenue Account Budget be approved;

 

2)      Council house dwelling rents be reduced by 1%, effective from 1 April 2016 in line with the Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015 (subject to confirmation of the statutory starting date);

 

3)      garage rents be increased by 1.1%, effective from 1 April 2016 in line with Council fees and charges;

 

4)      it be noted that a review of the Shared Equity rents in 2011 had determined that rents had been kept artificially low in previous years and not increased in line with the terms of the leases. Therefore rents for shared equity properties have been gradually increased above inflation for four years to bring the rents in line by 1 April 2016. The increase for 2016/17 and future years will be based on RPI and is estimated to be approximately 1% in 2016/17;

 

5)      Tenant Service Charges are set in line with estimated costs;

 

6)      the Housing Major Repairs (capital) programme for 2016/17 as set out in Appendix C be approved.

73.2

Capital Programme and Strategy 2016/19 pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To consider the recommendation of the Executive in respect of the Capital Programme and Strategy 2016/19.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  That Council approve the Capital Programme and Strategy for 2016/19.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was proposed by the Leader of the Council and seconded by Councillor Anthony Pollock that the Capital Programme and Strategy for 2016/19, as set out on Agenda pages 47 to 58, as amended, be approved.

 

Upon being put to the vote it was:

 

RESOLVED: That the Capital Programme and Strategy for 2016/19 be approved, subject to the 2017/18 and 2018/19 Capital Programme budgets for Car Park Entry/Exit Barriers being reduced to zero pending further review.

73.3

Treasury Management Strategy 2016/19 pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To consider the recommendations of the Executive in respect of the Treasury Management Strategy 2016/19.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  Council is recommended to approve the following:

1)      the Capital Prudential indicators, 2016/17- 2018/19;

 

2)      the Borrowing Strategy 2016/17;

 

3)      the Annual Investment Strategy 2016/17;

 

4)      the Treasury Indicators: limits to borrowing activity 2016/17;

 

5)      flexible use of Capital Receipts; and

 

6)      note a review of counterparties and the consideration of risk versus return is                          being reviewed and will be reported back to executive to in the year for consideration.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was proposed by the Leader of the Council and seconded by Councillor Anthony Pollock that the recommendations as set out on Agenda page 59 be approved.

 

Upon being put to the vote it was:

 

RESOLVED: That the following elements be approved:

1)    the Capital Prudential Indicators for 2016/17 to 2018/19;

 

2)    the Borrowing Strategy for 2016/17;

 

3)    the Annual Investment Strategy for 2016/17;

 

4)    the Treasury Indicators: limits to borrowing activity for 2016/17;

 

5)    the flexible use of Capital Receipts;

 

6)    it be noted that a review of counterparties and the consideration of risk versus return is being reviewed and will be reported back to the Executive in year for consideration.

73.4

Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) 2016/19 pdf icon PDF 122 KB

To consider the recommendations of the Executive in respect of the Medium Term Financial Plan 2016/19 and Budget Submission and Council Tax for 2016/17.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  Council is recommended to approve:

1)         the Medium Term Financial Plan for 2016/19 including the revenue budget submission for 2016/17;

 

2)         the Statutory Resolution that sets out the 2016/17 council tax levels, as set out in Appendix A to the report.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was proposed by the Leader of the Council and seconded by Councillor Anthony Pollock that the Medium Term Financial Plan for 2016/19, including the Revenue Budget Submission for 2016/17 and the Statutory Resolution setting out the 2016/17 Council Tax levels, as amended, be approved.

 

In accordance with the Regulations specified earlier in the meeting, a recorded vote was taken on the proposed recommendations for Item 66.4 – Medium Term Financial Plan 2016/19 – Revenue Budget Submission 2016/17, as amended.

 

FOR

AGAINST

ABSTAINED

Mark Ashwell

Prue Bray

Parry Batth

Keith Baker

Lindsay Ferris

Bob Pitts

Chris Bowring

Tom McCann

 

David Chopping

Beth Rowland

 

Michael Firmager

Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey

 

Mike Gore

 

Guy Grandison

 

 

Kate Haines

 

 

Mike Haines

 

 

Charlotte Haitham Taylor

 

 

Pauline Helliar-Symons

 

 

Tim Holton

 

 

Philip Houldsworth

 

 

John Jarvis

 

 

Norman Jorgensen

 

 

Pauline Jorgensen

 

 

John Kaiser

 

 

Dianne King

 

 

Abdul Loyes

 

 

Ken Miall

 

 

Philip Mirfin

 

 

Stuart Munro

 

 

Barrie Patman

 

 

Ian Pittock

 

 

Anthony Pollock

 

 

Malcolm Richards

 

 

Angus Ross

 

 

David Sleight

 

 

Chris Smith

 

 

Wayne Smith

 

 

Bill Soane

 

 

Rob Stanton

 

 

Alison Swaddle

 

 

Simon Weeks

 

 

Bob Wyatt

 

 

Shahid Younis

 

 

 

RESOLVED: That

 

1)      the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) 2016/19, including the Revenue Budget Submission for 2016/17 be approved;

 

2)      the Statutory Resolution that sets out the 2016/17 Council Tax levels (Appendix A) as tabled at the meeting, be approved, and that it be noted that, at its meeting on 28th January 2016, the Special Council Executive Committee calculated the following amounts for the year 2016/17 in accordance with regulations made under Section 31B of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, as amended by the Localism Act 2011 and the Local Government Finance Act 2012:

 

a)    66,001.4 being the amount calculated by the Council (Item T) in accordance with Regulation 31B of the Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) Regulations 1992 (as amended by the Localism Act 2011 and the Local Government Finance Act 2012) as its Council Tax base for the year;

 

b)    Part of the Council’s area:

Arborfield and Newland               1,260.0

Barkham                                    1,440.6

Charvil                                       1,399.6

Earley                                        11,704.0

Finchampstead                          5,665.3

Remenham                                317.5

Ruscombe                                 497.9

St. Nicholas Hurst                      1,044.2

Shinfield                                     4,780.7

Sonning                                     806.9

Swallowfield                               995.1

Twyford                                     2,961.5

Wargrave                                   2,085.0

Winnersh                                   3,801.3

Wokingham                                14,294.6

Wokingham Without                   3,107.1

Woodley                                    9,840.1

                                                 -----------

                                                 66,001.4

 

being the amounts calculated by the Council, in accordance with Regulation 6 of the Regulations, as the amounts of its Council tax base for the year for dwellings in those parts of its area to which a Parish Precept relates;

 

3)      the Council Tax requirement for the Council’s own purposes for 2016/17 (excluding Parish Precepts) be £85,492,273 (including £1,623,991 in respect of the Adult Social Care Precept for 2016/17 which is based on a 2% increase on the 2015/16 Council Tax level);

 

4)

the following amounts be now calculated by the Council for the year 2016/2017 in accordance with Sections 32 to 36 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, amended by the Localism Act 2011 (noting, however, that the precepts shown below for the Parishes of Arborfield and Newland, Earley, Winnersh and Woodley are provisional  ...  view the full minutes text for item 73.4

74.

Treasury Management Mid-Year Report 2015-16 pdf icon PDF 84 KB

To consider the recommendations of the Executive in respect of the mid-year Treasury Management report for 2015-16.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  Council is asked  to:

1)         note the mid-year Treasury Management report for 2015/16;

 

2)         note the actual 2015/16 prudential indicators within the report; and

 

3)         approve the report.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the Treasury Management Mid-Year Report for 2015/16 as set out on Agenda pages 109 to 140. The report had been considered by the Executive earlier and was recommended to the Council for approval.

 

It was proposed by the Councillor Anthony Pollock and seconded by the Leader of the Council that the recommendations of the Executive relating to the Treasury Management Mid-Year Report 2016/17 be approved.

 

Upon being put to the vote it was:

 

RESOLVED: That

1)      the Treasury Management Mid-Year Report for 2015/16 be approved;

 

2)      the actual 2015/16 Prudential Indicators within the report be noted.

 

 

 

75.

Community Governance Review pdf icon PDF 237 KB

To consider carrying out a Community Governance Review following a request from Wokingham Town Council to modify the existing Town Council boundary to encompass the whole of the South Wokingham Strategic Development Location and to adjust the allocation of seats in in Town Council wards to reflect population changes as a result of development.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  That Council agree the following:

 

1)         that a Community Governance Review (CGR) is initiated;

 

2)        the proposed Terms of Reference (TOR), as set out in Appendix 1 to the report, be agreed.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered a report, set out on Agenda pages 141 to 154, relating to a request from Wokingham Town Council for a Community Governance Review. Wokingham Town Council had requested modification of the existing Town Council boundary to encompass the whole of the South Wokingham Strategic Development Location and an adjustment of the seats in Town Council Wards to reflect the population changes resulting from the new housing development.

 

Councillor Prue Bray commented that, as a result of new development, other parts of the Borough such as Arborfield, Barkham, Finchampstead and, possibly, Shinfield may also require reviews to take place in due course.

 

It was proposed by Councillor Pauline Jorgensen and seconded by the Leader of the Council that the proposed Community Governance Review be carried out.

 

Upon being put to the vote it was:

 

RESOLVED: That

1)      a Community Governance Review be initiated;

 

2)      the proposed Terms of Reference for the review, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report, be agreed.

76.

Timetable of Meetings 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 207 KB

To consider the proposed Timetable of Meetings for the 2016/17 Municipal Year.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  That the Timetable of Meetings for the 2016/17 Municipal Year be agreed.

Minutes:

The Council considered the proposed Timetable of Meetings for the 2016/17 Municipal Year as set out on Agenda page 155.

 

It was proposed by the Leader of the Council and seconded by Councillor Anthony Pollock that the 2016/17 Timetable of Meetings be approved.

 

Councillor Prue Bray stated that the Liberal Democrat Group supported an additional meeting of the Council to be held in January each year. Councillor Bray also suggested that, if possible, Council meetings should not be held in the week of school holidays.

 

Upon being put to the vote it was:

 

RESOLVED: That the Timetable of Meetings for the 2016/17 Municipal Year, as set out in the Agenda, be approved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 1

 

Councillor Keith Baker – Budget Speech

 

Setting this year’s budget has been like sitting on a financial rollercoaster. In the end we had 3 different financial settlements which we had to work with – one bad, one even worse, and one slightly better but with much room for improvement. The officers and my fellow Executive Members have worked extremely hard on getting to this final budget. They have had to be extremely flexible as the financial landscape changed. I would like to personally thank them all for their supreme efforts.

 

It has been an interesting year where for the very first time we embarked on a resident engagement programme specifically on our financial position. This engagement consisted of a number of events across the borough where the Chief Financial Officer would first “paint the picture” of our financial situation. Afterwards Executive Members and Directors engaged in individual conversations with those who attended. It was extremely helpful and the feedback from those who attended was extremely positive. As it was the first time we had ever embarked on such an endeavour, it was inevitable that we wouldn’t get everything right but we have already learnt many lessons from it which will be incorporated into next year’s events.

 

As you know, out of 383 councils we are the lowest funded authority in the country and we will continue to be in that position right through to 2019/20, and probably beyond. In 2015/16 73% of our Core Spending came from the residents in the form of Council Tax payments. By 2019/20, which is the end of the 4 year settlement, 91% of our core spending will come from our residents Council Tax payments. In contrast the figures for Reading are 55% of Council Tax payments in 2015/16 increasing to 70% in 2019/20. In absolute terms, by 2019/20 Reading will receive £32M, whilst Wokingham Borough will get just £7M.

 

This council has always believed in “doing their bit” to achieve the Government’s goal of a country living within its means, and we have always expected to be virtually self-funding sometime in the future. Unfortunately with the initial settlement almost all councils were surprised at the front loading of the government cuts within the 4 year settlement. For example, we had planned for a reduction in the Revenue Support Grant  ...  view the full minutes text for item 76.

title pdf icon PDF 160 KB

Additional documents: