Agenda item

Scrutiny of the Budget Proposals - Scrutiny of the budget mandates relating to the committee's remit.


Cabinet Member Ben Callard delivered a presentation, introduced the report and answered the members’ questions with Mark Hand, Debra Hill-Howells, Paul Griffiths,Jonathan Davies, Carl Touhig, Peter Davies andCath Fallon. 

Key points raised by Members: 

1.      Is there further information on the residents’ meetings that will take place? 

2.      Is there a shortfall relating to car parks? 

3.      Can we be informed if the trade waste costs will now break even with the proposed increases and how this affects schools? How many schools currently use outside contractors and how do you think that the planned national changes for workforce recycling in April will affect the services and the income that we receive? 

4.      Do we need to provide residents with further information on what they can use as alternatives to plastic bags, such as bread bags and plastic food bags? And is it possible to assess the impact of this? 

5.      Do we receive any cash on saleable waste products as part of the waste incineration process? 

6.      Can we have more information on the drivers of increased costs of school transport? How are we avoiding these and making it cheaper by bringing it in-house? 

7.      Are we planning to electrify our bus services? Has money been set aside to invest in reducing the carbon of our home fleet? 

8.      Are other LAs doing the same with food waste bags? 

9.      How will ALN pupils be affected by the home-to-school transport proposals? 

10.   What will be the knock-on effect of increased parking charges to the use of supermarket car parks? When supermarkets were built the idea was that they wouldn’t take trade away from towns. Are there any planning issues there? 

11.   Which council assets are possibly being used for homelessness? Is accommodation available at Severn View Care home? 

12.   Why have recycling cost pressures increased so much? 

13.   Whyis there a 10% increaseregarding garden waste? 

14.   Can we have more information about the cost pressures related to Council Tax premiums? Why isn’t it cost neutral? 

15.   Have we pushed Welsh Government sufficiently in terms of getting extra funding? What extra consultation have we had to ensure we get the funding level to the Welsh average? 

16.   Are you looking into any other council properties for homelessness? What about county farms? 

17.   Can there be a press release or advertising so people will know that bread bags can be used as food waste bags? 

18.   Why is there no mention or breakdown in the budget of Highways? 

19.   There have been complaints from residents about the early closure of leisure centres on Sunday afternoons, and there are therefore concerns about the impact on the well-being of residents who participate in activities that will now be curtailed e.g. the badminton club in Monmouth. Surely thegraph will look the same next year as usage naturally tails off at the end of the day? Could we not open for longer to get more people in, and increase revenue in the process? 

20.   Will the proposal to close Tintern Old Station and two museums for one day a week, except for bank holidays, be confusing to tourists? 

21.   The survival of local shops, particularly in Monmouth, is a great concern. Will car parking charges affect footfall and local businesses? We have received a suggestion from a resident to remove the charges from the main car park in Monmouth to support local shops. 

22.   What will happen to the electric buses? 

23.   Can you clarify the number of vehicles to be replaced? Will they be utilised for community transport? 

24.   If Severn View care facility isn’t suitable for older people, with what confidence can we say it is suitable for homeless people? 

25.   The costs of provision for the building at Crick – was that dependent on selling Severn View for housing? 

26.   We’re going to save £400k for B&Bs and homeless accommodation, but refurbishment of Severn View will be needed. Is it acceptable that all the people that are homeless in Monmouthshire will go to one place? 

27.   There are concerns about the waste strategy and the risk associated with incorporating trade waste. 

28.   Does trying to operate as a business make sense as a council? Should the focus not be on delivering public services? ACTION: To circulate the data on external fee income requested by Councillor Howarth to the committee 

29.   For ALN children, why can we not find specialist transport and have a better price for it? 

30.   Can we have a further explanation of the budget associated with borrowing money to purchase transport? Is there not massive risk associated with this? 

31.   Note that if contractors don’t put in a tender for a route then parents expect the authority to provide transport for children, and we can’t save £22m without some reductions being made. 

Chair’s Summary: 

The committee recognises the budget pressures that the administration is trying to manage and there were a number of questions such as around the trade waste increases and whether we know the impact that this will have on our businesses across Monmouthshire.We wanted some reassurance on the home to school transport proposals and wanting to ensure it doesn't have a detrimental impact on additional learning needs.We needed more understanding with regards to homelessness and the savings that will be made, utilising Severn View care home and whether or notit's a suitable facility.There’s concern over the Welsh Government settlement of 2.3% when the average is 3.1%.We hope that the Cabinet Member will continue pushing for extra funding.There were some questions around Second Home Council Tax premiums and concern that there's a lack of information on highways. There are concerns about the early closure of leisure centres on Sundays and the impact on health and well-being, as well as the confusion and impact on tourism caused by the proposed closures. The effect of car parking charges on footfall in towns was also discussed. 


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