To deal with any questions on notice from Members of the Council, in the order in which they have been received.
A period of up to 15 minutes is allocated for the asking and answering of questions. This may be extended at the discretion of the Chairman with the agreement of the majority of those present.
The Chairman explained that 8 Questions on Notice had been received for consideration at the meeting and would be considered in the order in which they had been submitted. A maximum of 15 minutes was allocated to consideration of these questions and the answers provided and there were no supplementary questions.
Question submitted by Councillor K. Van Der Plank
“It now seems probable that this council will end the financial year 2021/2022 with a surplus of around £370k. So is it now time to revisit the Independent groups budget suggestion of spending £70,000 on the reintroduction of the hugely popular and useful community grants fund which supported many local good and worthy causes?”
The Leader responded by commenting that the forecast outturn position for 2021/22 was better than anticipated at the time of setting the 2022/23 budget. This would mean that the opening balance of the Council’s General Fund would be healthier than anticipated, which would help the Council’s challenging financial position.
The Leader stressed, however, that other areas within the budget were likely to perform worse than anticipated in the 2022/23 financial year. For example, the inflationary assumptions made when setting the budget with regard to pay inflation (of 2 per cent) and non-pay inflation (of circa 5 per cent) were likely to come under significant pressure during the period. These pressures would be closely monitored but were likely to lead to significant overspends in some areas.
Members were also asked to note that the Council still had an underlying gap between spend and income over the medium term. As previously reported in the Budget, the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan forecasted the authority’s General Fund position to decline significantly from a balance of over £4 million to £1.046 million at the end of 2024/25, a level which was below minimum adequate levels.
The Council would therefore need to continue to take steps to reduce expenditure and/or increase income to remain financially secure moving forward. This financial reality made any decision to spend additional monies very difficult as the Council continued to aim to balance the budget.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Douglas
“It is disappointing news that WCC have been unsuccessful in their bid for £84m to invest in bus service. I recall that the expected success of this bid was the reasoning behind the refusal to move forward with the Independent budget proposal to fund a business case to investigate the feasibility of BDC running its own local bus services to connect the outlying centres with Bromsgrove. Will the controlling group now consider writing to the County Council to request that they review the services in Bromsgrove with the potential to provide free bus travel at the weekends?”
The Leader responded by advising that she shared Councillor Douglas’s disappointment that Worcestershire County Council had been unsuccessful in their bid for major funding to invest in bus services. Whilst the Council wanted to support all residents with access, connectivity and public transport opportunities throughout the District, it was ... view the full minutes text for item 29