To receive an annual performance report on the Corporate Plan 2020-25 and consider progress during 2020/21.
Members received a report from Cllr V. Lewanski, Portfolio Holder for Corporate Policy and Resources, on the Reigate & Banstead 2025 Annual Report 2020/21. These reports are key tools to assess the Council’s progress towards its corporate plan and equalities objectives. The new plan was adopted by the Council in January 2020 and this was the first annual progress report.
2020/21 was predominated by the pandemic and the report showed how the Council responded to the need to refocus council services to support residents and local businesses as they dealt with the challenges of COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns and restrictions, along with continuing its day-to-day work towards the objectives of the plan. The Council had made good progress against the success measures set out in Reigate & Banstead 2025 with its corporate priorities and played a central role to support the most vulnerable residents which was part of its Equality Objectives.
Members thanked officers and the Portfolio Holder for the reports and made the following comments and observations for the Executive before its meeting to discuss the reports on 24 June.
· Affordable homes – the objective to ‘Secure the delivery of homes that can be afforded by local people’ was discussed. Members asked for a definition of affordable housing and noted that there had been a decline in completing the overall number of affordable houses due to COVID-19 in 2020/21. It was noted that the government had consulted on a potential change to the threshold for developer contributions to affordable homes. This meant planning obligations on developers could only apply to schemes of 40 -50 homes, rather than those with 10 or more homes. Members asked if there would be an impact on the number of affordable homes. Officers confirmed that it was too early to see if this would take effect, but it could have quite a significant impact in the borough in the future, if implemented. Council schemes such as developments in Pitwood Park in Tadworth and Cromwell Road in Redhill were being used to boost affordable housing targets.
· Environmental impact – the objective to ‘Reduce our own environmental impact and support local residents and businesses to do the same’ was discussed. Members asked if more up-to-date data could be included as figures on CO2 emissions across the borough only went up to 2018. Also, Members asked what was being offset and how, after the Council switched 33% of its energy supply to renewables and offset the remainder in 2020/21. It was noted that the data on carbon emissions in the borough was taken from the latest national figures. A written response would be given on the offsetting question.
· Demonstrating value for money and measuring performance – one of the objectives was to confirm the borough’s reputation as ‘a great place to do business’. Members asked how this was measured against the £400k Economic Prosperity budget spent in 2020-21 to demonstrate value for money for residents. It was noted that some of successes listed were Covid-related rather than business-related, and some areas such as emptying bins and removing graffiti was business as usual. Portfolio Holder, Cllr Lewanski, confirmed that this section would be revisited to add more detail and look at value for money in this area.
· Communication with residents – Members noted the residents’ feedback set out in the report and that 35% at March 2021 did not feel well-informed about Council services. Members called for a sustained effort to improve this figure. For example, looking at other ways to engage with residents in the recently launched consultation on the Climate Change and Sustainable Construction Supplementary Planning Document that was not only a link to a long document but could demonstrate and give examples of what good looks like. The Executive Member, Cllr Lewanski agreed to raise this with officers.
The Committee noted the Equality Objectives Progress Report for 2020/21.
RESOLVED that the Committee –
1) Notes the Reigate & Banstead 2025 Annual Report for 2020/21 and makes the observations set out in the Minutes for consideration by the Executive.
2) Notes the Equality Objectives Progress Report for 2020/21.