Reporting Person – Leigh Clarke
Councillor Roberts, Portfolio Holder for Corporate Financial Planning and Policy, introduced a report which provided an update to the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for 2022-23 to 2025-26. The report also outlined the approach to aligning Council budgets with the priority outcomes defined within the Woking for All strategy, as well as the supplementary and amended priorities from the new administration agreed at the last meeting of the Executive. The Portfolio Holder explained that the financial forecasts within the report set out the level of challenge faced by the Council due to increased inflationary pressures and risk to the level of the Council’s forecast income. As part of the Council’s Financial Resilience Strategy, the Executive noted that it was important that plans were in place to respond to the financial risks outlined in the MTFS and work would progress on savings options with an update provided at the October Executive. The proposed savings options of circa £11m was highlighted.
In order to meet the needs of residents whilst supporting the Town Centre, the Executive discussed the proposed parking pilot for Victoria Place, which included Red, Green, Yellow and Blue car parks. It was proposed that a new tariff be piloted on Saturdays during September to encourage car park users to extend their stay in the Town Centre beyond two hours. Councillor Davis, Shadow Portfolio Holder for Corporate Financial Planning and Policy, raised a number of questions on the proposed pilot including measurement of success, exit strategy and impact on CO2 emissions in the Town. The Leader responded to the points raised and highlighted that the information from the pilot would support the development of a car parking strategy later in the year. It was highlighted that it would be necessary to bear in mind other factors which could increase parking occupancy during the pilot, such as the opening of Italia Conti in Victoria Place.
The Executive acknowledged the challenging financial situation and the updated financial forecasting set out in the report. It was noted that the MTFS would continue to be reviewed and updated over the summer to bring forward areas of search for efficiencies and savings, with further MTFS updates brought to the Executive throughout the year.
That (i) the evidence base on demographics (Appendix 1 to the report) be noted;
(ii) the target for areas of search to identify further efficiency and savings proposals (Section 6) be noted;
(iii) agree for the Strategic Director – Place, in consultation with the relevant Portfolio Holder, to submit the UK Shared Prosperity Fund Investment programme (referenced in Section 2 of the report) to the DLUHC by 1st August 2022;
(iv) agree to the continuance of Opportunity purchases within the Investment Programme with delegation to the Chief Executive in consultation with the Leader and relevant Portfolio Holder;
(v) agree the car park pilot in the Victoria Place Car Park for the Saturdays within the pilot period;
(vi) the priority outcomes, in the Corporate Plan which form the basis of the Council’s business and financial planning set out in Section 4, be reviewed through the process highlighted within the report;
(vii) the development of a four-year Medium Term Financial Strategy drawing from the Corporate Plan priority outcomes be agreed;
(viii) agree to continue to develop activity and financial plans through the Fit for the Future programme using the guiding principles of affordable, responsible, and sustainable to develop options for operating within the resources available;
(ix) reports be received on more detailed plans for the next four years in November 2022;
(x) as detailed in paragraphs 6.19-6.20 of the report, parent company guarantees be provided to the new gas and electricity providers, as required by Thameswey Energy Ltd and Thameswey Central Milton Keynes Ltd, with the detail to be agreed by the Director of Legal and Democratic Services in consultation with the Leader; and
RECOMMENDED to Council
That (xi) the Medium-Term Financial Strategy as updated be approved.
Reason: The decision is sought to agree the framework for Officers to develop further proposals for consideration, in due course, by the Council to ensure the medium-term financial stability of the Council.