To receive a Budget Statement from the Leader of the Council, to consider the following reports of the Section 151 Officer (copies enclosed) and to determine the level of Council Tax.
Members’ attention is drawn to the following Procedure rules:
· Voting - Procedure Rule 13(5) set outs the requirement for any vote taken at a budget decision meeting (as defined by the Local Government Finance Act 1992) to be recorded in the Minutes.
· Budget Speech – Procedure Rule 1(13)(a) Sets out the time limits in relation to the budget speech and (b) details the requirements for making alternative proposal or amendment as part of the Budget and Council Tax setting.
The Council considered the reports of the Section 151 Officer, on the recommendations of the Strategy and Resources Committee at its meeting on 28 January 2021 relating to the revenue budget and the proposed level of Council for 2021 / 22.
The Leader of the Council made a budget speech (attached at APPENDIX 1 to these Minutes) and commended the budget for 2021 / 22 to the Council.
In response to the budget speech, the Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Mrs P A Channer, thanked the Leader of the Council and commented on the speech, referring to:
· the good financial position the Council had started the year with and how the Council, like many other authorities, its residents and businesses had experienced unprecedented challenging times due to the impact of COVID-19. The Council’s emergency response to the pandemic had resulted in a higher expenditure than normal and she highlighted the support and relief provided by the Government. At this point, Councillor Mrs Channer thanked all Council officers for their work during the pandemic to ensure that services and support to residents was largely maintained.
· how the Council had lost income from a number of areas including, car parking income, events etc. However even though the Government had promised to extend the income compensation scheme the impact of COVID-19 was difficult to predict due to the ongoing uncertainty.
· the Council’s main sources of income and the items included in growth for 2021 / 22 including the Local Development Plan review, digitalisation projects etc.
· how the Council needed to be mindful of the transformation process it had been through and associated staff costs.
· the proposed £5 increase in council tax (the maximum possible) which equated to a 2.47% increase, 2½ times the rate of inflation. Councillor Mrs Channer again referred to COVID-19 the pressures, stress and losses faced by residents and businesses and how it had affected lives in immeasurable ways. She felt to support residents and customers council tax should be frozen and offset the £125,000 income that the 2.47% increase would bring.
Following her suggested freeze on council tax, Councillor Mrs Channer proceeded to outline the areas where savings could be made, advising that the total of the following was £125,000 meaning there would be no council tax increase and would this would have no increase to the general fund.
Councillor Mrs Channer explained that she felt this would reduce the stress and strain and impact on residents who were suffering at this time.
In response to a query the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer advised that he had taken the Opposition Leaders’ statement as a response to the Leaders’ speech and not a formal proposal. Councillor Mrs Channer raised a point of order regarding the process and putting forward an amendment to the budget. In response the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer referred to Procedure Rule 1, the process for the Leaders’ speech and how following a reply from the Leader to any comments from the Leader ... view the full minutes text for item 280