Agenda item

Review of Fees and Charges 2024-25 EXE23-057


Councillor Roberts, Portfolio Holder for Finance, introduced the report on the annual review of Fees and Charges, setting out the context in which the proposals had been drawn up.  As a result of over reliance on income from commercial investments, the Council faced a budget shortfall in the region of £12m.  Whilst the Council had identified significant savings, it was clear that it was no longer in a position to fund its discretionary services and faced three options; such services could be placed with an organisation better placed to meet community needs; or, if a priority, the services would have to become self-funding; or the Council had to withdraw from the service.  In future years, the fees and charges would be reviewed in line with a commercial strategy of the Council, work on which had already started. 

Councillor Roberts highlighted two points: in respect of the car park charges, a Parking Study was currently taking place and proposals would be put forward for Member consideration in February 2024.  Secondly, a supplementary paper had been published earlier in the day, setting out an additional recommendation (v) for the Council to consider in respect of introducing fees for the electric vehicle charging points in Council owned car parks.  As an officer report and proposal, it was not necessary for the recommendation to be formally moved and seconded.

The proposals were debated at length by the Council, with concerns raised over the level of increases in the Council’s fees and charges.  It was argued that not all the proposals were supported by detailed cost breakdowns in each service.  Reference was made to the level of inflation and the Council was advised that the charges had to be based on anticipated future rates of inflation, noting that the rate in recent years had been significantly higher than predicted.  It was added that, in view of the financial position of the Council, it was essential that the Authority maximised its receipts.

The increases in the charges for the Rhoda McGaw Theatre were highlighted, with concern expressed that local drama groups would no longer be able to afford to use the Theatre.  The increase in the charge for green waste collection was also referred to, though it was advised that the new charge would bring the Council in line with that of other Surrey Authorities.  Some Members also felt that it had not been possible to fully scrutinise the proposals, with additional details only received earlier in the day.

Councillor Roberts responded to the points raised during the debate, emphasising that it would take time for the Council to achieve its ambitions around the annual review of fees and charges.  The concerns and frustrations of Members over the position the Council found itself in were acknowledged.

The Mayor referred Members to the recommendations set out in the supplementary report, together with the additional recommendation (v).  In accordance with Standing Order 10.8, recommendations (i) to (v) were put to a vote and the names of Members voting for and against were recorded as follows:

In favour:                                Councillors A-M Barker, A Boote, G Cosnahan, W Forster, P Graves, S Greentree, S Hussain, I Johnson, D Jordan, A Kirby, R Leach, L Lyons, C Martin, L Morales, J Morley, E Nicholson, L Rice and D Roberts.

Total in favour:                       18

Against:                                  Councillors J Brown, K Davis and S Dorsett.

Total against:                         3

Present not voting:                 The Mayor and Councillor S Oades.

Total present not voting:        2

The recommendations were therefore carried by 18 votes in favour and 3 votes against.


That (i)      the discretionary fees and charges for 2024/25, as set out in Appendices 1 – 4 of the report, be approved;

          (ii)     the proposed increases in discretionary fees and charges from 1st January 2024, as set out in Appendices 5 – 7 of the report, be approved;

          (iii)    to move the waste service to a cost neutral position as soon as possible, any of the proposed 2024/25 increases for Bulky Waste and Waste Receptacles set out in Appendix 2 to the report that can be implemented quickly should be introduced at the earliest practical date following approval by Council;

          (iv)    next year’s process will use the Commercial Strategy and Protocol being developed as part of the Improvement and Recovery as the framework for setting fees and charges, to ensure that fairness, equity and social impacts are balanced with a sound commercial approach; and

          (v)     delegated authority be given to the Strategic Director – Corporate Resources, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Finance, to agree charging fees in respect of electric vehicle chargers in Council owned car parks.

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