Agenda item

Report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Transformation


Councillor Hebb, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Transformation, presented his portfolio holder report by stating that Thurrock Council’s economy was strong and that services to which residents used and depended on would be safe until at least 2022/23.


Councillor Hebb briefly highlight the following services included within that portfolio:


-           Thurrock Council’s budget exceeded the legal obligation to balance council’s budget.

-           Thurrock was a great place for residents to live in.

-           Thurrock Council was not only financially balanced but had delivered a multi-year, multi-million pound financial surplus – a surplus which had been spent, penny-for-penny, on the borough.

-           The Council would focus on what the Council had rather than what the Council did not have.

-           Fair Debt Summit to identify ways to help people help themselves, avoid debts of any type.

-           Council Spending Review “Round 2” to focus on service quality.

-           Infrastructure Investments of £78m to expand the A13 at Orsett Cock and £17m on expanding schools.

-           Protected the Council’s services by increasing the Council’s “rainy-day” reserve account by 38%.

-           Thanked Officers and Portfolio Holders for their support.


Councillor Gerrish thanked the portfolio holder for the report and stated that Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee had looked at the KPIs for commercial income and had been disappointed that the target had been lower than the previous year and that the Council needed to ensure that trading income increased and not declined. Councillor Hebb stated that the Council would continue to look at targets and build on that basis.


Councillor Pothecary thanked the portfolio holder for the report but had concerns over the lack of Members in the making of key decisions and that the Council Spending Review should involve more Members to ensure that residents are represented and questioned how the portfolio holder planned to do this. Councillor Hebb stated that the Council Spending Review would go over everything to understand the full scope of the Council and what had been requested by Cabinet. That the history of including Members from other groups had not been good but the plan would be to include a wider involvement of Members over the coming months.


Councillor Spillman echoed Councillor Pothecary comments and stated the process of the Council Spending Review should change to ensure that those Members responsible for budgets have sufficient information to comment and be able to debate. Councillor Hebb stated that the longer term opportunities would be looked into and noted Members support in the new proposed review.


Councillor Kelly questioned what work had been undertaken on the Fair Debt Summit. Councillor Hebb stated that three approaches had been set (1) those who want to pay, but can’t (2) those who can pay, but won’t and (3) to help future generations anticipate and avoid getting into debt. Councillor Hebb thanked Michelle Lucas, Thurrock Adult Community College and Councillor Halden and stated the three schools had signed up to the pilot phase and the programme would continue to work with care leavers and more secondary schools.


Councillor Allen asked what the Council were doing to address the big issue of mental health in the borough and how was the Council looking to reduce waiting times. Councillor Hebb stated that a commitment had been made by all three group leaders and Councillor Massey that half a million pounds from the surplus fund would be used to address and improve the concerns made by Councillor Allen.


Councillor Hebb thanked the remarkable work undertaken by his teams.

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