Agenda item

Agenda item

Scrutiny Reports

The Scrutiny Committee will meet on 6 February 2024.  The following reports are expected, together with any other recommendations from that meeting:

·        Capital Strategy 2024/25 to 2027/28

·        Treasury Management Strategy 2024/25

·        Report of the Budget Review Group 2024/25


The Budget Review Group had met on four occasions during January 2024.  Councillor James Fry, Chair of the Group, presented its report and summarised its nine recommendations.

Councillor Fry highlighted that the Group had expressed some concern as to how the savings proposed in the Council Tax Reduction Scheme would be achieved.  This had led to a recommendation that several alternative scenarios for achieving the savings should be modelled and included in the next public consultation.

The Group had also recommended that the Council should reconsider its involvement in the Fibre to Homes initiative, with a view to exploring whether this represented an ‘unnecessary extra’ given the internet speeds already available in the properties in question.

A further recommendation of the Group had been that the Council should continue to pursue a conversation with the owner of Golden Cross to negotiate the opening of their gate to enable access to the Covered Market from Cornmarket during late night opening.  Evening opening at the Covered Market appeared to be very successful, and the lack of access from Cornmarket currently meant that many people were likely to be unaware of it.

The Group had also considered that the Council should seek to introduce a charge for 0-1 hours of parking at park and rides and analyse the income which this might generate.

The remaining recommendations - which had related more to process than to the budget directly - had focused on ensuring democratic participation and engagement in the Strategic Review of Services Provided across Community Services; improving data on domestic abuse and homelessness; compiling information to share with the future government about the issues faced by local government as a result of a lack of co-ordination between Central Government departments; and lobbying the Home Office to engage with this Council and local authorities more broadly in relation to asylum dispersal hotels.

Councillor Fry thanked officers for their work in supporting the Group, and the members of the Group for their time and deliberations.  The Leader, and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Asset Management, both thanked the Group for its comprehensive review.

Response to the recommendations of the Budget Review Group were provided in the separately published supplement to the agenda.

The Scrutiny Committee had met on 6 February 2024, and the following reports had been considered:

(i)        Treasury Management Strategy 2024/25

(ii)       Capital Strategy 2024/25

One recommendation had been made on each report. 

On the Capital Strategy, the Committee had asked for clarification on whether the capital schemes which pre-dated the Council’s net zero targets (and therefore were not subject to the same zero carbon criteria) might jeopardise the Council’s ambition to reach net zero by 2030. Clarification had been provided by the Cabinet Member and was included in the separately published scrutiny supplement.

On the Treasury Management Strategy, a recommendation had been made that the Council review its investments in light of the conflict in Israel and Palestine with a view to assessing alignment with the Council’s Ethical Investment Policy.  The recommendation had been accepted, and the Cabinet Member’s response was included in the separately published scrutiny supplement.

Supporting documents: