Agenda item

Call-in Resources to Support the Council Budget Process (Decision: 110676)


The Leader stated that he was disappointed that the Chair of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee was not in attendance. The Leader confirmed that he attended the meeting and was looking forward to hearing further from the Chair. The Leader noted that Councillor Gledhill was in attendance to present a Minority report.


Councillor Gledhill stated that in his view the question asked about why the report was not brought to the last Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting and why there was a need for urgency were fully answered by Cabinet Members and Officers. The decision was made in favour of openness and the reasons for urgency were valid. Cabinet members, Officers and the Chief Executive made a compelling case that it is not just about spending £800,000 to identify 5.25 million pounds of savings but to upskill staff to identify savings, transform services and implement those savings to minimise the impact on residents. The Council could bring in anyone to reduced budgets and that could result in services being slashed. Councillor Gledhill cited cuts to the Environment Tea pre 2016 that left the Council with no operators, equipment, Street Cleaning or Enforcement team and that this should not happen again.


Councillor Gledhill summarised that the decision was proportionate to the outcomes and was made in line with the budgetary framework. For these reasons Councillor Gledhill stated that in his view the Call-in should have been rejected and this was not the outcome as the Chair used his casting vote and this is why he has included the first Minority report at Thurrock Council.


The Leader summarised the outcome of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Meeting on 1 November 2023:


·       The Committee agreed to accept both call-ins and refer back to Cabinet.

·       The Committee ask Cabinet to re-consider the decision based on consistency with the Council’s budget framework.

·       The Committee arrived at this decision based on evidence to suggest the cabinet report was prepared with short notice and not placed on the forward plan to allow for proper scrutiny. The Committee wanted assurance that there was a planned approach to the use of PWC and that the expenditure was justified and proportionate.


Councillor Snell commented that Councillor Gledhill summed it up well. At the meeting the Chief Executive was asked if delaying the report would cause problems for the Authority and the answer was yes. Councillor Snell queried with Councillor Gledhill if an ED2 would normally go through an Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


Councillor Gledhill responded that in his experience the Leader would sign the ED2 and relevant members and it would be rare to go to an Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


Councillor Snell stated that he agreed reports should be subject to call-in. it was agreed at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee that the process should be different going forward for these types of issues. Councillor Snell summarised that he is happy with the report going forward as originally written.


The Leader confirmed that the opportunity for Councillors to speak was at the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 1st November 2023.


All Cabinet members agreed to implement the original decision.