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Agenda item

Phase One Budget Proposals*

Minutes:

Cabinet received a report as part of the Council’s agreed two stage budget process, as outlined in the report considered by Cabinet on 24 November 2014.

 

The purpose of the report was to enable Cabinet to consider the feedback from consultation undertaken to date with Scrutiny, residents, partner organisations, businesses and other interested parties and to recommend to Council approval of phase one budget proposals.

 

An addendum document had been circulated prior to the meeting of Cabinet which contained revised recommendations.

 

Councillor Seaton introduced the item and provided an overview of the background to the issue. Further key points included the wide reaching ongoing budget conversation; the challenges faced due to the £44m cut in grant; the work which had been undertaken alongside officers and the cross party budget working group; the release of the budget proposals in two phases; full analysis of the feedback being included within the addendum to the Cabinet report; the feedback and consultation sessions  which highlighted the understanding that the public had in relation to the issues faced by the Council; the consultation responses being taken into account but also being balanced with achieving the required level of savings; the cessation of Your Peterborough magazine leading to a decrease in communication opportunities with residents; the issues raised being consistent throughout; the deferral of proposals for shrub replacement and grass cutting to Phase 2 of the budget proposals to allow further discussion; the proposal to charge for blue badge parking and the bigger issue being the availability of accessible spaces rather than charging itself and the work that would be undertaken alongside the disability forum to address this issue; comments which had been received with regards to proposals for bowls clubs and the further work that would be undertaken to identify alternative ways to provide the service; comments which had been received with regards to Council Tax Support, this not being part of the proposals for Council in December;  the comments which had been received relating to suggested savings and the work that was already being undertaken in relation to some of the suggestions; the second set of proposals which would have to close the remaining £8m savings gap and the feedback process which would be repeated for this second phase.

 

Councillor Seaton summarised by stating that the Council was committed to providing a bright future for the city and its residents and it was believed that the phase one proposals struck the right balance between tackling the financial challenges faced and maintaining focus on education, jobs creation and economic prosperity and quality of life for residents.

 

Cabinet debated the report and key points raised, along with responses to questions provided by the Executive Director of Resources included:

 

·         It was still unclear as to when the grant settlement would be;

·         There had been a number of concerns raised around the bowling greens. Could consideration therefore be given to postponing any decision on the bowling greens to the second phase?

·         The feedback received from the bowling clubs had been positive so far and the health and wellbeing benefits were recognised. Meetings were continuing and alternatives were being explored. The proposal for bowling clubs was therefore proposed for postponement to the second phase;

·         The gap in the finances were not due any form of mismanagement by the Council and each year a balanced budget had been delivered along with significant efficiency savings. Significant challenges had been met and this was down to a strong Finance Team and a focussed Cabinet;

·         The Corporate Management Team worked together throughout the year to address any in year pressures within the resources available and the resource allocation. Finances had also been put into areas where it was needed, for example into children’s services, due to local issues; and

·         The financial resilience of the Council was good and the Council was tackling challenges head on.

 

 

Cabinet considered the report and RESOLVED:

 

1.    To have regard to the consultation feedback received to date and statutory advice detailed in the report, when determining the phase one budget proposals, noting that consultation remained open and an addendum would be provided prior to the Cabinet meeting and to the Council meeting;

 

2.    To recommend that Council:

 

i. Defer some phase one budget proposals to phase two of the budget process to enable Cabinet further time to conclude the specific issues raised on certain budget proposals. The proposals to be deferred being:

 

Issue

2015/16

£k

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19

2019/20

Parks, trees and open spaces

-168

-168

-168

-168

-168

Comprising of the partial deferral of the parks, trees and open spaces, this being:

- Cutting of parkway verges will be reduced by around 20 per cent, however visibility for traffic will be maintained at all times. This proposal makes a saving of £10,000.

- Grass cutting will be reduced from ten cuts a year to eight. This proposal makes a saving on £38,500.

- Shrubs which are ageing or have reached the end of their life will be removed. This proposal makes a saving of £83,000.

- Four of the city’s seven bowling greens will be closed. Currently there are bowling greens at Bushfield in Orton, Central Park (2), East Community Centre, Itter Park, Ringwood in Bretton, Stanground and Werrington. In addition, six grass tennis courts at Central Park and five at Itter Park will be closed. Clay tennis courts at both parks will remain open. This proposal makes a saving of £36,000.

ii. Approve the phase one budget proposals, as summarised in appendix 1 to the Cabinet report, subject to the deferral of the proposals as outlined in recommendation (2i), to enable implementation of these budget proposals to commence; and

3. To note the timetable for the phase two consultation and formal approval of the 2015/16 to 2024/25 Medium Term Financial Strategy as detailed at section 6. Furthermore, budget proposals approved by Council on the 17 December will form part of the medium term financial strategy but will not form part of the second stage of consultation or Council debate on 4 March 2015.

           

          REASONS FOR THE DECISION

 

Under statutory requirements the Council must set a lawful and balanced budget. The approach outlined within the report worked towards fulfilling this requirement.

 

ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS CONSIDERED

 

Cabinet considered releasing all budget proposals in the New Year after the provisional finance settlement announcement, as Cabinet had done so over previous financial years. The cross party Budget Working Group expressed a desire to release budget proposals earlier than in previous years. Cabinet considered the cross party Budget Working Group’s view and recognised that as work was continuing to identify and propose further budget proposals, and given the unprecedented scale of the savings to find, Cabinet agreed to publish their budget proposals in two stages. This would enable the remaining phase one budget proposals to be approved by Council on 17 December to allow the implementation process to commence depending on whether the proposals were required to be implemented under Director delegation, Cabinet Member Decision Notice or a further report to Cabinet.

Supporting documents:

 

 

 
Peterborough City Council. Town Hall, Bridge Street, Peterborough, PE1 1HF - (01733) 747474
 
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