Report of the Leader of the Council.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Brunt, introduced the report which set out how the Council, working with local communities, had responded with positivity and determination to the unprecedented and challenging times presented by the global pandemic. The Council would continue to play a central role in supporting the most vulnerable people in the Borough and whilst some activities had been paused or scaled back, many services and projects had continued, those included:
· The Marketfield Way development and the housing scheme at Pitwood Park
· New efficient vehicles including waste lorries, had been delivered
· Core statutory services had been maintained
The Council’s recovery workstreams were underway, including the re-implementation of some of the services that had been paused. Those services included:
· Green waste collections
· Re-opening skate parks; and
· The phased re-opening of community centres and the Harlequin Theatre, at the appropriate time.
The Leader explained that there was an opportunity for the Council to learn from the past few months and to use that learning to do things better as a Council. This would involve a review of ways of working, alongside the provision of services to residents.
The Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Finance, Councillor Schofield, set out the financial implications of the pandemic:
· Unbudgeted expenditure incurred through emergency response work was forecast to be £1.177m
· Reductions in service income due to changes in demand for services or policy decisions taken in response to the emergency was forecast to be £2.26m
· There were further potential financial implications arising from reductions in income from Council Tax and Business Rates.
The pandemic represented a material financial risk to the Council’s budget. The current estimate of the net adverse financial impact for 2020/21 was at least £1m. The adverse impact could be funded through the Headroom Contingency sum included in the 2020/21 budget, however, other in-year budget risks would then draw on Council reserves.
Councillor Schofield emphasised that the Council was in a better financial position than many other local authorities and remained well-placed to respond to the challenge. A further report on the Council’s Medium-Term Financial Plan would be made to the Executive in July.
The Executive welcomed the forthcoming Overview and Scrutiny task group review of the recovery workstreams. In response to questions from a Visiting Member, the Leader explained that the Council would continue to seek government funding for projects that supported the Council’s environmental sustainability objectives.
The Executive Member for Neighbourhood Services, Councillor Bramhall, highlighted the progress made by Surrey County Council on cycling initiatives in the Borough; and set out that the Council’s strategic approach to Environmental Sustainability would be considered at the next meeting of the Executive.
RESOLVED that the Executive:
1. Records its thanks for the outstanding efforts of all members and Council staff in responding to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) emergency
2. Agrees the approach for recovering from the emergency, including the approach to service & financial planning and continuing to deliver on the Council’s ambitions as set out in Reigate & Banstead 2025.
3. Agrees the latest forecasts of the financial implications of the emergency which will be updated in June to form the basis for in-year financial reporting and the Medium-Term Financial Plan review.
Reason for decision:
i. To put on record the Executive’s appreciation for the hard work and dedication of members and Council staff in supporting the borough and its residents through these unprecedented times
ii. To formalise the Council’s recovery plans and set the framework for the focus of service and business planning over the coming months.
iii. To endorse current forecasts for the financial implications and the actions proposed to mitigate them.
Alternative Options: As set out in the report.