Venue: Virtual Meeting
Contact: Matthew Stickley, Committee Services Manager Tel: 020 8770 4990 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome and introductions
The Chair, Councillor Ruth Dombey, welcomed the watching public and those present.
Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Jenny Batt and Holly Ramsey with Councillors David Bartolucci and Catherine Gray respectively attending as substitutes.
There were no declarations of interest.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2020.
1. That the minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2020 be agreed as an accurate record of the meeting.
Any urgent business
To consider any items which, in the view of the Chair, should be dealt with as a matter of urgency because of special circumstances (in accordance with S100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972).
There was no urgent business.
This item presents an update on the COVID-19 public health emergency in the borough.
Councillor Param Nandha joined the meeting at 19:34.
The Chair invited Helen Bailey, Chief Executive, to present the report. The Chief Executive was joined by Dr Imran Choudhury, Strategic Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, and Sam Barker, Assistant Director of Customers, Transformation and Strategy.
Dr Choudhury updated the committee on the current COVID-19 situation in the borough, highlighting that the rate of COVID-19 diagnoses in the borough had recently reduced from 1,100 per 100,000 people to approximately 287 per 100,000 people. The committee noted that although the rate of hospital admissions was steadily falling, hospitals remained under pressure with high numbers of in-patients. Dr Choudhury advised the committee that the total number of people in the borough who had died within 28 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis was 390.
Mr Barker outlined the Scrutiny Committee’s findings on the council and its partners' response to COVID-19, noting that all of the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations had been acted upon as part of the ongoing response to the pandemic.
The committee noted that more vaccination centres were shortly due to open across the borough, including a centre in a central Sutton location. Dr Choudhury reassured the committee that the NHS had confirmed there was sufficient vaccine availability in local NHS services for the first four vaccine priority groups. Dr Choudhury further reassured the committee that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was safe, noting that the South African strain of COVID-19 was not a dominant strain and that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine had proven very effective against strains within the United Kingdom.
The committee discussed staff support, noting that staff absences were higher than in the first national lockdown of spring-summer 2020. The Chief Executive outlined the council’s support to its staff, including consistent support to all staff via guidance and support to managers, and the continuation of staff support resources.
The committee noted that the council was seeking to address anxieties among certain demographics, particularly among young women for whom fertility concerns may be leading to lower than expected uptake of vaccines, and ethnic minority groups. The committee noted that the approximately 500 laptops allocated for disadvantaged school children in Sutton had been distributed by the council to the borough’s maintained schools during the first phase of this rollout and that donated IT products from local businesses and residents were also being repurposed to be provided to similar school children. It was noted that the self-isolation payments were ordinarily paid by the council within 48 hours.
1. To note and endorse the actions detailed in this report.
2. To agree to recommendations from Scrutiny Committee’s investigation into the Council’s response to COVID-19 (Appendix A).
The Council's budget for 2021/22 and Medium Term Financial Plan for 2021/23.
The Chair invited Councillor Sunita Gordon, Lead Member for Resources, and Richard Simpson, Strategic Director of Resources, to present the report. Mr Simpson noted that paragraph 3.1 stated that the council was delivering low carbon heat via the Sutton Decentralised Energy Network (SDEN) as had been forecasted would be the case over the weeks the report had been written in time for the meeting of the committee. He clarified that this was now expected to be the case in the near future.
It was noted that, whilst the council’s reserves were within the bottom quartile of London boroughs, the levels were stable and not reducing as might be expected of a council in more significant financial difficulty.
The committee discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the council’s finances and what measures the council had taken to ameliorate this. The committee also discussed strategic works at the London Cancer Hub site, the provision of COVID-19 discretionary support grants, and the medium term financial position of the council as compared to the 2020-21 financial year.
The committee discussed the financial support provided to the council by central government and how any shortfall would be addressed.
It was noted that the following councillors abstained from the vote on the recommendations:
· Councillor Tom Drummond
· Councillor Tim Foster
· Councillor Neil Garratt
· Councillor Catherine Gray
· Councillor James McDermott-Hill
· Councillor Param Nandha
To recommend the following to Full Council for consideration on 1 March 2021:
1. To note the progress of Ambitious for Sutton and the priorities for 2021/22 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, set out in section 5.
Revenue Budget 2021/22
2. To agree the proposed General Fund Net Budget Requirement of £150.955m summarised at Appendix B.
3. To approve the Council’s pay policy statement for 2021/22 attached at Appendix C.
4. To agree the growth items attached at Appendix D.
5. To agree the 2021/22 savings proposed in Appendix E.
6. To agree the Sutton element of the 2021/22 Council Tax £1,492.90 for a Band D property, an increase of £21.43 (1.5%) for the general increase, and £42.85 (3.0%) for the Adult Social Care Precept.
7. To approve the formal resolution at Appendix K, including the Council Tax Requirement of £108.109m.
8. To note the proposed GLA precept of £363.66, increased from £332.07 in 2020/21 (an increase of 9.5% or 61p a week), due to be agreed by the London Assembly on 25 February 2021.
Housing Revenue Account
9. To note the rent increase of CPI + 1% and agree the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget 2021/22 including the proposed savings (Appendices F1 - F2).
10.To approve the Members’ Allowances Scheme for 2021/22 (Appendix G).
11.To approve the Fees and Charges (Appendix H).
12.To approve the new Capital Strategy (Appendix I1) including the detailed Capital Programme (Appendix I2) for 2021/22 to 2024/25 with a total spend of £194.431m, including the proposed funding arrangements and policies.
13.To authorise expenditure to be incurred of ... view the full minutes text for item 45.
The Chair invited Councillor Sunita Gordon, Lead Member for Resources, and Victoria Goddard, Assistant Director of Finance, to present the report.
1. To note the revised financial forecast for 2020/21.
2. To approve the capital budget adjustments set out in Appendix B2.
In accordance with Standing Orders 34.25 and 34.26 of the council’s constitution, two residents have requested that the Strategy and Resources Committee review how their petitions were handled and considered.
The Chair invited Stephen Gerrard, Interim Monitoring Officer, to present the report.
The committee discussed the wording of the petition scheme, the approach taken to refer the petitions to the appropriate committee, and whether or not the petitioners had been disadvantaged.
Following debate, Councillor Neil Garratt moved a motion to amend the recommendations such that recommendation 2.1 would be as follows:
To note that a petition with more than 1,500 signatures should be debated at full Council, that this petition was not debated at full Council, and that the petitioners were not told that it could be.
This was seconded by Councillor James McDermott-Hill. The proposed amendment was put to the vote and fell.
Councillor Neil Garratt then moved a motion to amend the recommendations such that recommendation 2.2 would be as follows:
To agree that although the petitioners were afforded the opportunity to make their representations to the committee, their representation should have been heard at full Council and therefore the petitioner is entitled to an apology and to a debate at full Council if they so wish.
This was seconded by Councillor James McDermott-Hill. Following debate, and with the consent of the seconder, Councillor Neil Garratt withdrew the motion to amend the recommendations.
Following debate, Councillor Ruth Dombey moved a motion to amend the recommendations such that recommendation 2.2 would be as follows:
To agree that although the petitioners were afforded the opportunity to make their representations to the committee, their representation could have been heard at full Council and therefore the petitioner is entitled to an apology that the constitution is not clearer on this matter.
This was seconded by Councillor Mo Saqib. The proposed amendment was put to the vote and carried.
1. To note the procedures followed in handling the petitions.
2. To agree that although the petitioners were afforded the opportunity to make their representations to the committee, their representation could have been heard at full Council and therefore the petitioner is entitled to an apology that the constitution is not clearer on this matter.
3. To agree that a review of the council’s petitions scheme be undertaken and reported back to the Strategy and Resources Committee following consultation with the Constitutional Working Group.
Exclusion of the public and press
The following motion should be moved, seconded and approved if the committee wishes to exclude the public and press to deal with reports revealing exempt information:
“That the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph X Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.”
The motion to exclude the public and press was not moved.