Report on County Council Matters to North Nibley Parish Council

5th February 2018

Cabinet Meeting 31st January

This meeting considered a revised draft budget to submit to the County Council meeting on 14th February.

As previously mentioned, in the Government’s financial settlement the County Council was accepted as a 100% business rates retention pilot. Another change was the flexibility to increase council tax by up to 3% (previously 2%) before triggering a referendum.

The Cabinet meeting approved recommending that the Council takes up half the extra increase that is now being permitted, adding 0.5% to council tax on top of the 1.99% previously proposed. Most of the extra money raised through this and other changes would enable and additional £5.01M funding for Children & Families following the highly critical OFSTED inspection. To this has to be added the 2% permitted by Government specifically to fund Adult Social Care, giving a total increase of 4.49%.

This brings the proposed revenue budget for 2018/19 to £412.90M (previous draft budget £407.16M) and would give a Band D precept of £1,232.21, an increase of £52.95 over the current year.

Other budget issues had been further explained at an all-day meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management committee on 10th January to which all councillors were invited. Through questioning I ascertained from the cabinet member that the Traffic Regulation Order funding (£100k this year) is to be retained in some form. There is no mention of this item in the budget papers and as a growth item last year it would have been lost if treated in the same way as similar items such as most of the Highways Local Funding. I complained about the lack of transparency.

The money allocated to councillors to recommend for use in their individual divisions stood at £75k in 2014/15. This included money for highways and money to spend on encouraging physical activities. This amount has progressively decreased and in the current financial year was £35k. In the coming one it is proposed to be just £20k consisting of £10k for Highways Local (currently £30k) and £10k for a new Growing our Communities fund. This excludes the lengthsmen scheme which is equivalent to £10k per councillor, but we have much less input into its use.

Highways Maintenance

Five companies are bidding for the new highways term maintenance contract. This delivers around £20M of routine maintenance such as potholes, winter gritting, grass cutting and gully emptying. The contract will be awarded this autumn and will start in April 2019. Amey is not one of the five. They are Balfour Beatty, Griffiths, Ringway, Skanska and Volker Highways.

John Cordwell