Reporting Person – Leigh Clarke
The Executive received a report which set out the draft Investment Programme 2020-21 to 2024-25. Councillor Ashall, Portfolio Holder for Corporate Financial Planning and Policy, drew attention to the considerable impact of the Covid pandemic on local government finances and advised that the Council faced a high level of uncertainty going forward. The Executive heard that it was unclear whether the Council would receive additional compensation from Government or whether Government support would continue into 2021/22. Councillor Ashall advised that a number of projects had been temporarily removed from the funded Investment Programme to protect the Council’s reserves due to the impact of the pandemic.
Members discussed the proposal for the Finance Director to request a reduction in Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) borrowing rate. It was commented that the likelihood of success was unknown until conversations commenced with the Government on the matter.
Following a question regarding We Are Woking, which had been placed on the list of temporarily suspended projects due to Covid, Officers advised that the aim of the campaign had been to promote and drive interest in the town. Although We Are Woking had previously included climate change promotion, it was noted that climate change was now promoted through Planet Woking. Members also discussed the Transit Site project and Victoria Square modelling.
Following a request for a longer summary to be made available at December Council concerning the Thameswey Energy Ltd additional funding requirement, Councillor Barker was invited to advise Councillor Ashall of the information that could be included.
That (i) the draft Investment Programme for 2020/21 to 2024/25 be received;
(ii) Managers, Corporate Management Group and Portfolio Holders be asked to review the Programme for any further cost improvements including reviewing the projects, their costs and timing to achieve savings with the minimum impact on citizen outcomes;
(iii) the Finance Director requests a reduction in PWLB borrowing rate, through the reduction of the margin applied by the government, to support the Victoria Square, Sheerwater and HIF regeneration schemes;
(iv) Officers work with Surrey County Council to agree an acceptable use of additional Council Tax generated through the Long Term Empty premium to support climate change initiatives; and
RECOMMENDED to Council
That (v) the loan facility provided to Thameswey Energy Ltd for the expanded Poole Road Energy Centrebe increased to £35.6m.
Reason: To agree the draft Investment Programme for consultation before submission for final approval to the Council in February 2021.