Agenda and minutes

Extraordinary, Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 14th August, 2023 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, Gloucester Square, Woking, Surrey GU21 6YL

Contact: Toby Nash, Scrutiny & Democratic Services Officer, Ext 3056, Email 


No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

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Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Andy Caulfield and Kevin Davis.



For the Chair to give an update on the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 10 July 2023.

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At the meeting Councillor Brown made the following statement:

“After reviewing the minutes that were sent to the Executive on the 13th of July regarding the Town Centre Master Plan, it was apparent that they were adjusted after the approval from the Chair. This update is only a reminder that changes to the recommendations to the Executive need to go through the proper processes with the chair’s agreement. This committee plays a vital part for the Council to be open and transparent, and it is important that we all, as Councillors and Council officers, do our best to ensure that due processes are followed.”


Urgent Business

To consider any business that the Chairman rules may be dealt with under Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.

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There was no urgent business to discuss.


Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary and other interests from Members in respect of any item to be considered at the meeting.

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No declarations of interest were received.


Improvement and Recovery Programme Progress Report - August 2023 OSC23-039 pdf icon PDF 215 KB

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[Note: All Councillors were invited to attend and contribute to the item and the Committee was joined by Members of the Executive: Councillors Ann-Marie Barker, Will Forster, Ian Johnson, Liam Lyons and Dale Roberts.  Apologies from Executive members were given by Councillors Peter Graves and Ellen Nicholson].

As part of the directions from the Secretary of State the Council was required to develop an Improvement and Recovery Plan (‘the Plan’), to be agreed by the Commissioner team appointed by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and DLUHC.  Once agreed it would be necessary for the Council to update Commissioners and DLUHC on the Council’s progress against the Plan after three months, six months, and every six months thereafter.  The Council would also undertake any practicable requests the Commissioner team deemed necessary throughout the recovery process.

A range of views were expressed about the recently concluded public consultation on the future of Council services.  It was both recognised that there had been a large number of respondents but that the number equated to less than ten percent of the population.  Views were expressed that those ten percent of respondents would influence the services provided to all in the Borough.  As well as being completable online, paper copies had been provided throughout the Borough at community spaces to reach more residents and at localities more accessible by vulnerable residents.  Officers restated a commitment to ensuring as many residents as possible would be able to access future consultations including vulnerable residents.

Officers commented that the consultation was informal and that any proposed changes to services would necessitate a formal consultation to users and potential users of that service.  Formal consultations would be held once Council had received proposals from Officers on service changes at its meeting on 28 September.

The consultation had been developed with advice from external partners, including Councils, that had experience of public engagement.

The Committee agreed a request that future consultations include asking respondents to indicate their ward, where relevant.

The language used in reports would be considered to ensure that it was not a barrier to communication with residents.  Nevertheless, as the reports would be submitted to the Commissioners and DLUHC they were required to be comprehensive.  A glossary would be written to define the meaning of more technical language.

Officers confirmed that it was not possible to commit to protecting any service from any impact.  Any proposals would be developed by Officers and submitted to Council for elected Members to decide.

Discussions were being held with other districts and boroughs on more effective delivery of services to residents by combining resources.

Member briefings would be held on key decisions where time allowed.

The Plan included an ambition to increase the number of digital Council customer transactions to eighty percent.  As part of the development of a digital strategy to reach this goal a good strategy would ensure that it did not lead to digital exclusion.  It was anticipated that by allowing a greater number  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy OSC23-040

To receive an update on the Community Infrastructure Levy.

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Brendan Arnold, Chief Finance and Section 151 Officer, provided a summary of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) scheme.  The scheme had paid out approximately £10,000 per year over the previous eight years.

The Section 151 Officer noted that there had been confusion regarding the definition of a separate account, as had been used to describe the CIL fund.  Where it was commonly thought to mean a separate bank account, in actuality it meant a separate ledger account.  It was considered normal national practice to keep CIL money, and other moneys collected by the Council, in such a manner.  The Chief Finance Officer confirmed that a separate ledger would continue to be used as opposed to a separate bank account and that the outcome would have been the same if a separate account had been used previously.

The Council faced a £1.2 billion charge with no finances to cover.  There had been no use of CIL money on capital expenditures.

The Council would honour all commitments to it under the CIL scheme including financial liabilities.  There were, therefore, no legal ramifications from the current CIL financing situation.  Officers considered that the developers would have no justification to apply to reclaim their money.

It was necessary, due to the Council’s finances, to take a measured approach to CIL funding.  Officers emphasised that such an approach did not equate to a pause or freeze of the CIL scheme.  It was not yet possible to determine how much cash would be available to fund CIL applications.

The Chief Finance Officer considered that the next opportunity to release funds for the CIL scheme would be following the setting of the Council’s budget at the meeting of the Council in February 2024.

New cash received was being kept separate so as not to contribute to the aforementioned £1.2 billion charge.

Officers confirmed that once cash was available to fund approved applications funding would be allocated using the pre-existing procedure.

The Chair asked that as the Section 114 Notice stated all statutory duties would be fulfilled and considered that would include CIL funding, for what reason was it not currently being funded.  The Section 151 Officer undertook to reply outside of the meeting.

Officers had no intention of closing the CIL scheme.

A view was expressed that direct communication on the matter between the Council and neighbourhood forums should take place.  The Committee agreed to request that Officers engage with neighbourhood forums on the subject.  Councillor Lyons, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory, was committed to engaging with the neighbourhood forums.

[Post-meeting Note: Shortly after the meeting, Cllr Lyons contacted the Chairman to advise him that Cllr Lyons had confused Pyrford Neighbourhood Forum with a different organisation, and that Pyrford Neighbourhood Forum had not in fact declined his invitation to attend one of their meetings as originally stated in the meeting.  Cllr Lyons was looking forward to attending Pyrford Neighbourhood Forum on 11 September 2023]

The Committee agreed that it would be helpful for Officers to publish  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 173 KB

Reporting Person: Councillor Josh Brown

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The Committee mooted removal of several items from the Suggested Additions to the Work Programme in recognition of the workload of the Committee.  It was deemed unlikely to proceed with inviting Affinity Water, South Western Railway and Royal Mail at Committee.  A view was expressed that the Thames Water item should still be pursued given the fruitful outcomes from previous engagement with the utility company.

Councillor Brown suggested that the third parties could be invited to separate briefings, with discussion on whether these should be public to be held with Officers outside of the meeting.  Any outcomes of such meetings would be reported at Committee.

Councillor Brown noted two items on the Executive Forward Plan that the Committee could perform scrutiny of prior to consideration by the Executive: Review of Fees and Charges and ThamesWey Business Plans.

The Committee also considered calling additional meetings to ensure sufficient capacity to consider scrutiny topics.


That the Work Programme be noted.