Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 11th September, 2023 6.00 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 Councillor Andy Caulfield


Minutes pdf icon PDF 112 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meetings of the Committee held on 10 July 2023 and 14 August 2023 as published.

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That the minutes of the meetings of the Committee held on 10 July and 14 August 2023 be approved and signed as true and correct records subject to the correction of typographical errors identified by the Committee.


Matters Arising from the Previous Minutes OSC23-042 pdf icon PDF 94 KB

To review any outstanding items from the previous minutes.

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The Committee discussed Matter 8.1 from the July meeting, information on a bid for pandemic-related funding from central Government. 

It was requested that clarification be given on the statistics for rising 18-year-olds.

[Post-meeting Note: the information provided omitted an explanation for the 923 attainers, which was the number on the register in 2019.  The full Matter has been included in the Matters Arising to be received by the Committee on 16 October 2023].


That the report be noted.


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 Member declared any interests.

In accordance with the Officer Employment Procedure Rules, the Strategic Director of Corporate Resources, Kevin Foster, declared a disclosable personal interest (non-pecuniary) in any items concerning the companies of which he is a Council-appointed director (companies listed in table 1).  The interests were such that Kevin Foster was able to advise on those items.

Brookwood Cemetery Limited

VSW Hotel Limited

Brookwood Park Limited

Victoria Square Residential Limited

Export House Limited

Victoria Square Woking Limited

Kingfield Community Sports Centre Limited

Woking Necropolis and Mausoleum Limited

LAC 2021 Limited (Dormant)

Woking Shopping Limited

Table 1.

In accordance with the Officer Employment Procedure Rules, the Strategic Director of Communities, Louise Strongitharm, declared a disclosable personal interest (non-pecuniary) in any items concerning the companies of which she is a Council-appointed director (companies listed in table 2).  The interests were such that Louise Strongitharm was able to advise on those items.

Rutland Woking (Carthouse Lane) Limited

Rutland Woking (Residential) Limited

Rutland (Woking) Limited

Table 2.

In accordance with the Officer Employment Procedure Rules, the Head of Transformation and Digital, Adam Walther, declared a disclosable personal interest (non-pecuniary) in any items concerning the companies of which he is a Council-appointed director (companies listed in table 3).  The interests were such that Adam Walther was able to advise on those items.

Brookwood Cemetery Limited

Thameswey Developments Limited

Brookwood Park Limited

Thameswey Energy Limited

Thameswey Central Milton Keynes Limited

Thameswey Limited

Thameswey Sustainable Communities Limited

Thameswey Solar Limited

Woking Necropolis and Mausoleum Limited

Table 3.


Economic Development Working Group Update

Reporting Person: Councillor Javaid

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The Committee received a verbal update on the work of the Economic Development Working Group from its Chair.

The Group Chair was keen to focus the resources of the Working Group on the Commercial Strategy.  The Chair was concerned that the staffing and budget cuts as represented in the Medium Term Financial Strategy would negatively impact the economic development of the Borough.

Officers recognised the importance of economic development to the Borough and hoped that the Council would be able to work with Surrey County Council in the future.

The Commercial Strategy was a key tenet of the work of the Improvement and Recovery Programme (IRP).  Updates on the Strategy would be provided when the Committee received updates on the IRP.


Finance Working Group Update OSC23-045 pdf icon PDF 79 KB

Reporting Person: Councillor Aziz

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The Committee received the update report of the Finance Task Group.


Housing Working Group Update

Reporting Person: Councillor Aziz

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The Chair of the Group had been expected to provide a verbal update to the Committee but was unable to attend the meeting.  The Committee requested a written report covering the meeting of the Housing Working Group held on 26 July 2023 be prepared for the next meeting.


Work Programme OSC23-041 pdf icon PDF 173 KB

Reporting Person: Councillor Josh Brown

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The Committee reviewed the suggested additions to the work programme and, in light of the increasingly full work programme for the remainder of the Municipal Year, agreed to remove several items.  The items were: Commissioner-Officer Working Relationship, Community Grants Update, Invite Affinity Water, Invite Royal Mail. Invite South Western Railway, Review of Company Governance Structure, Update on Company Governance Structure.  The items would be reviewed at the end of the Municipal Year.

It was moved and agreed by the Committee to form a Task and Finish Group on the ‘suggested additions to the Work Programme’ item, HS2 Brookwood Cemetery.  Officers were requested to draft a Terms of Reference for the Group and present it to the Committee for its approval at the next meeting.

The Committee agreed to add to the agenda of the October meeting a report on Member Training. Also added to the October meeting would be the amendment to the Public Speaking at Planning Committee section of the Constitution as raised by Scrutiny Topic Proposal at the 10 July meeting.

Officers commented that Victoria Square and ThamesWey Group updates would remain on the Executive Forward Plan.

Officers had previously agreed to provide MTFS papers to Overview and Scrutiny prior to their receipt at Council.  The Committee requested that workshop(s) be arranged to  cover the proposals.  Officers undertook to determine appropriate dates for workshops.


That the Work Programme be noted.


MTFS OSC23-043 pdf icon PDF 60 KB

To follow the Member workshop held prior to the meeting.

Reporting Person: Section 151 Officer

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[Note 1: 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, Ellen Nicholson and Dale Roberts. Apologies from Executive members were given by Councillors Peter Graves, Ian Johnson and Liam Lyons].

[Note 2: By the Council’s Constitution, Council meetings are required to end after three and a half hours unless members of the Committee agree to extend the meeting.  At 9:13pm the Committee held a vote to extend the meeting which was agreed by majority.]

Whole Council & Budget Deficit

Julie Fisher, Chief Executive Officer, introduced the MTFS noting that the savings identified totalled approximately £8.5 million and a further £4 million was required to reach the £12 million target.  The report explained that following further investigation, the in-year deficit had grown from £12 million to £19 million.  The increased deficit was due to several sources:

           the Council’s need to reservice short-term loans, of which the Council had approximately £200 million.  The Council was no longer able to borrow money from other local authorities and could only borrow from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB).  The PWLB interest rates were higher than those offered by other local authorities and therefore contributed £5 million increased deficit.

           A parking management fee to be paid to Victoria Square Woking Limited.

           Reductions to rental income from the commercial estate.

Officers recognised the requirement to set a balanced budget and were committed to saving the previously identified £12 million target.  However, it was not yet known how the additional £7 million would be bridged and Officers did not consider it possible for the Council to achieve.  The setting of the balanced budget excepted the amount of money required for Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP).  The Council’s total income was insufficient to cover MRP.

The calculations that led to £12 million of savings, were derived from the cost of delivering services less the Council’s income.  The cost of delivering services was not fixed and dependent on demand and inflation.  Similarly, certain incomes, such as rent, were variable.

The identified savings had been revised down from an estimated £8.8 million to the £8.5 million figure due to a re-evaluation of leisure costs, which were revised down by £300,000.

The Council had total core funding of £16 million and received funding from other sources for a total income of approximately £49 million.  Officers undertook to provide Councillors with more details on the cost of delivering services.

Due to the scale of the deficit, it left no space to consider less savings in any area.

Officers were actively addressing the in-year deficit but recognised that the scale of total deficit, £1.2 billion, brought about by a re-evaluation of historic investments, was beyond the Council’s capabilities to address.  Support for the larger figure would be sought from central Government; however, it was imperative that the Council demonstrated a strong resolve to savings and working efficiently.

The future of the Council’s companies and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.