Elmbridge BC Cabinet Meeting – 18th Nov 2020

Below is a summary of the Elmbridge Borough Council Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday 18th November. Full details of the agenda and reports can be found at Elmbridge Borough Council and the meeting can be viewed at https://elmbridge.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/523725.

  1. Declarations of Interest
  2. 2020/21 Performance Monitoring
    • There have been a number of delays in reports due to the COVID-19 situation. This affects service plans for Environment (3 mth delay to air quality action plan), Housing (change to targets for placement of homeless households), Leisure and Culture (proposal to extend existing leisure centre contract – see later), Planning (6 mth delay to Local Plan) and Resources (Asset Mgmt/Property – 13 mth delay to Lower Green master plan).
    • The next Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) bidding round will open for applications in Feb 2021
  3. Q2 Crime and Disorder Benchmarking Report
    • Across the whole of Elmbridge, there has been considerable reductions in Q2 2020 vs 2019 in theft, domestic burglary, other sexual offences and fraud/forgery
    • there have been large increases in anti-social behaviour (but this includes social distancing breaches), drug offences, vehicle interference/tampering and robbery. Apart from ASB, there was no breakdown given for the Esher Ward itself.
    • There has been a focus on domestic abuse. Increase of 91% referrals for domestic abuse. A domestic abuse webinar was held and a further webinar is scheduled for 15th December.
  4. Members’ (i.e. Councillors’) Allowance
    • There was an independent report recommending increases to Councillors’ allowances
    • However, the Cabinet took an alternative approach to freeze allowances for the next 2 years and to reject the increases recommended for 2022-24.
  5. Climate Change Member Advisory Panel
    • The Terms of Reference were approved for a Climate Panel to focus on the target to make the Council organisation carbon neutral by 2030 and the Elmbridge district carbon neutral by 2050.
  6. Discretionary Fees and Charges
    • Parking charge increases (10p per hour for short stay, removal of 30 min option, Saturday to be free 1 hr stay not free all day for lesser used car parks, free parking for 100% EVs to be withdrawn except for those with a Green licence plate or green permit)
    • Waste Services
      • Garden Waste – annual subscription will increase by £4 to £49 (and £44 for subsequent bins)
      • Charges for replacements for recycling bins to be introduced from 2021, in line with standard refuse bin charges. Costs for all bins to be increased to align with other district councils served by Amey.
    • Leisure and Cultural Services
      • Annual price increases for Xcel Leisure Complex, Hurst Pool, Green Spaces (esp sporting activities) and Cemeteries were announced
    • Community Support Services (eg meals on wheels, centres, carers, etc)
      • Surrey County Council has reduced it’s grant for this by 80% over the past 5 years. Annual increases in fees were noted
  7. Housing Services – fees and charges
    • Various changes to the fees charged/reclaimed for housing homeless households in privately-owned/managed accommodation were approved
  8. Leisure Management Contract
    • Approved that the contract with Places Leisure is extended till 2023 when the leisure centres’ usage should have returned to more normal levels and more sensible bids for the contract can be arranged.
  9. Public Halls Management
    • The 4 public halls (King George’s Hall – Esher, Elmgrove – Walton, Vine Hall – East Molesey and the Playhouse – Walton) are still closed
    • Plan approved to permanently close Elmgrove and Vine Hall and look to re-develop the sites
    • King George’s Hall in Esher – management to be transferred to the King George Hall Trustees from Aug 2021
  10. Sponsorship of Roundabouts
    • Contract for roundabout sponsorship/advertising was, reluctantly, extended for another 5 years. Note the only roundabout in Esher Ward with sponsorship is the Scilly Isles
  11. Parks Tennis
    • Tennis fees have been suspended since 2004. Re-introduction of the fees at £5 per session was approved. Within the Esher Ward this applies to tennis courts at Elmbridge Civic Centre, Coronation Rec Ground (Hersham) and West End Rec Ground.
  12. Street Naming and Property Numbering Charges
    • An increase in costs was approved to ensure that the Council’s costs were covered to provide this statutory service.
  13. Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – which raises fund for additional development
    • CIL Funding for Esher Ward included
      • EV charging points for Civic Centre car park
      • Copsem Lane congestion and air quality improvements (£25k). To be completed by 31/3/2022. Note: I believe this is to extend the northbound right turn-lane from the Milbourne Lane lights further down Copsem Lane. The ERA has made representations on this to ensure that safety for pedestrians trying to cross the road is not impacted.
  14. Residential Development Projects update
    • The report provided an update on plans to provide additional affordable residences in Elmbridge, including investigating the use of the Harry Fletcher House site (next to the Civic Centre car park) for 8 temporary solo “pod” units.
  15. Q2 20/21 Revenue and Capital Budget update
    • Expenditure exceeded income by an unprecedented £1.14m (£743k in Q1 and £398k in Q2).
    • Largest contributor to shortfall in Q2 was Transport (primarily due to suspension of car park charges)
    • Also reductions in proprty income and leisure centres
    • There were savings from cancellation of elections in May 2020
  16. Proposal to develop a Dementia Services Centre at Thames Ditton Centre
    • This was approved
  17. Revenue Budget Proposals for 2021/22
    • Shortfall is expected to be £5.5m (25% of net expenditure budget)
    • Trying to avoid forced redundancies
    • Elmbridge Oct unemployment was 3,195 (4 times that in Oct 2019 when it was 895). This is 4% – still lower than the UK 6.3% average.
    • Services costs will need to increase at more than the rate of inflation
    • Will take at least 3-4 years to return to “normal” budgets
    • 58 proposals have been developed totalling £1.54m per year of savings. These 58 proposals are restricted, not available to the public.
    • £4.5m of reserves are projected to be required to be used as of end October
  18. The remainder of the meeting (Property Transactions) was not open to the public

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