Venue: Committee Rooms 2 & 3, Civic Centre, Hanbury Road, Pontypool, NP4 6YB
Contact: Chris Slade Senior Business Support Officer - Democratic Services
Attendance / Presenoldeb
1.1 Apologies were received from Councillors Glyn Caron, Veronica Crick, Giles Davies, Kath Evans, Stuart Evans, Elizabeth Haynes, Gaynor James, Alan Jones, Janet Jones, Emma Rapier, Louise Shepphard, Neil Waite
Declarations of Interest / Datganiadau o fudd
2.1 No interests were declared.
3.1 The Chair welcomed members and officers to the meeting. He reminded the committee that the purpose of the meeting was for members to discuss and scrutinise the Council’s Budget Mitigation and Proposals for 2020/21, developing recommendations on the draft mitigations.
3.2 Members were assured that there would be ample opportunity to discuss each proposal laid out within the report and as always were supported by chief officers who would talk through any queries.
3.3 The Chair invited Cllr Kelly Preston, Executive Member for Resources and Dave Lilly, Head of Financial Services to give members a short recap on the budget setting process so far and how the proposals in this report have been derived.
3.4 The Executive Member for Resources highlighted that since October 2019, the Council had received a significantly improved provisional settlement position on what was expected, and the prioritization of local government by the Welsh Government means the Council has not had to consider further mitigations.
3.5 The Head of Financial Services set out the position further adding that the improved provisional settlement position and the prioritization of local government by the Welsh Government within their deliberations was welcome and had allowed for the protection of services.
3.6 The proposals set out point to a budget that:
- Continues to give priority to schools and social care;
- Has mitigations only at 1% and can be classed as modest service change proposals;
- Sees evidence of the progress that T22 is making in that a number of proposals are as a direct result of that programme;
- Has only minor utilisation of reserves;
- Funds Children’s services at the level of 2019/20 spend and so removes the pressure being experienced in the current year;
3.7 Members broke into two workshop sessions for the remainder of the meeting with each table feeding back their collective views before moving on to considering a new service area.
3.8 At the conclusion of the workshop, the Chair thanked officers for their contributions and the committee made the following recommendations.
On completion of their scrutiny activity, the committee concluded by offering the following comments and recommendations for consideration:
Regarding the budget mitigation to, ‘Reduce Civic Centre opening hours in line with flexible working hours band width (7am to 7pm). Currently the civic centre is open until 9pm for organisations who wish to use it. This is mainly for meeting purposes’.
The committee recommends,
- Ensuring Community Groups who currently use the Civic Centre in the evenings are made aware of the changes so they are able to look for alternative venues.
Regarding the budget mitigation, ‘Review discretionary charges for planning: Pre application enquires (one stop shop?), high hedges advice, and general planning advice’, the committee recommends,
- Supporting the proposal as long as the increase in charges would not prevent genuine cases being heard in relation to high hedge issues,
- Supporting the proposal but the website needs to be developed ... view the full minutes text for item 3.