Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2, Council Offices, Woodgreen, Witney, Oxfordshire OX28 1NB. View directions
Apologies for Absence and Temporary Appointments
To receive any apologies for absence and temporary appointments.
Apologies for absence were noted from Councillors Natalie King, Mathew Parkinson, Rizvanna Poole and Mark Walker. Apologies for lateness were received from Councillor Andy Goodwin.
Councillor Dan Levy substituted for Natalie King.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Duncan Enright, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economic Development.
Declarations of Interest
To receive any declarations from Members of the Committee on any items to be considered at the meeting.
There were no declarations of interest.
Participation of the Public
To receive any submissions from members of the public. Anyone who lives in the district or who pays council tax or business rates to the Council is eligible to read a statement or express an opinion at this meeting. You can register to speak by sending your written submission of no more than 750 words to [email protected], by no later than 10.00am on the working day before the meeting.
There was no public participation.
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 6December 2023.
The minutes of the “Spotlight” meeting held on 18 December 2023 will be considered at the next meeting of the Committee.
The minutes of the meeting held on 6 December 2023 were approved by the Committee and signed by the Chair as an accurate record.
To receive any announcements from the Chair of the Committee.
There were no announcements from the Chair.
For the Committee to consider and scrutinise the Council’s Draft Budget for 2024/25.
That the Committee scrutinises the Draft Budget 2024/25 and agrees any recommendations it wishes to submit to the Executive.
Councillor Alaric Smith, Executive Member for Finance
Madhu Richards, the Director of Finance
Georgina Dyer, Chief Accountant
The Executive Member for Finance introduced the report which set out the Council’s budget at the time of publication. There was an updated version for the meeting of the Executive the following week. The Executive Member thanked the finance team for their work on the budget.
The Director of Finance said that the proposals represented a balanced budget. The budget papers for the Executive were adjusted for recent decisions taken in respect of the review of legal services and the local government finance settlement which the Council had received on 18 December. The effect was to move the budget into a surplus position of £14,700. The version of the budget that would be presented to the Council budget setting meeting would also take into account the latest Business Rates information and any further Executive decisions that affect the budget.
The Director of Finance highlighted some key information in the report including:
· The forecast overspend in the current financial year of £433,041 over and above the approved deficit budget of £350,129.
· The draw-down of reserves over the period of the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) set out in Annex A and the need to think ahead and manage finances carefully.
· The budget pressures caused by general and wage inflation.
· The uncertainty surrounding the financial impacts of the transfer of the majority of services from Publica to the Council.
· The challenging economic environment and the fact that a number of other local authorities had issued Section 114 notices.
In discussion the Committee noted that:
· Inflation in wages and energy had created an in year overspend and the revenue position was more than double the anticipated deficit.
· The reversal of one off items from 2023/24 (para. 5.2 in the report) did not represent items that had been promised to the public and not delivered, rather it was the reversal of income contingencies which had been put aside last year against planned income.
· The main differences from last year were around the levels of income rather than expenditure, e.g. increases to planning application fees and charges for green waste licenses.
· The Council was unable to calculate the retained Business Rates figure until the end of January and this would be reflected in the final report to the Council budget setting meeting.
· A decision had been taken in 2021 to reduce the opening season for Woodstock Swimming Pool due to the high cost to the Council of keeping the pool open for longer.
· Charging green waste customers on a pro rata basis was likely to be operationally difficult to implement and would likely reduce income. The Council could look at improving the information on the website and consider the cut-off date for buying a license.
· The Council Tax base was unlikely to grow strongly in the short term and it was difficult to identify alternative funding streams so it was considered prudent to propose raising Council Tax by the maximum of £5 per band D property. This had been factored in to the MTFS.
· The ... view the full minutes text for item 32.
For the Committee to receive the Executive’s response to any recommendations from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
That the Committee notes the Executive response.
The Executive response to the recommendation on the Review of Weekly Markets was noted.
For the Committee to review its work programme for the remainder of 2023/24.
That the Committee notes and comments on its work programme.
The Democratic Services Business Manager updated the Committee on some changes to the work plan following the publication of an updated Executive Forward Plan:
· The Carbon Action Plan item had slipped to the March Executive meeting and would now be taken at the 29 February committee meeting.
· The Business Case for Acquiring Emergency Accommodation had slipped to the June Executive meeting.
In response to questions the Business Manager confirmed that an item on waste would likely come to the Committee after the local elections. The Business Manager also confirmed that the Executive reports on biodiversity and climate change were still on track for the February Executive meeting.
To give the Committee the opportunity to comment on the Executive Work Programme.
That the Committee agrees which items on the Executive Work Programme should be subject to pre-decision scrutiny and the priority order of those items.
There were no comments on the Executive work plan.