Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Tuesday 18th January 2011 10am

The Executive

Cllr Drage presented the regular update on the Revenue Budget as at the end of November highlighting in particular the projected overspend on Looked after Children’s placements. Demand for this expensive service had been high this year. The report detailed what work was being done to manage down the costs of some of these placements but warned that an unexpectedly high number of new cases would subsume the expected savings.

Cllr Drage then presented the report on the Provisional Grant Settlement for 2011/12 to 2012/13. While we had expected the settlement to be tight, the budget setting process had been further hindered by the late announcement of the grant settlement, some parts of which are still to be determined. We were also disappointed that some of the promised settlements, specifically in respect of social care, were less than we had been led to expect.

Sutton is in the fortunate position of having undertaken an early transformation programme, Smarter Services Sutton, in order to prepare for the expected budget reductions, however the settlement is even lower than predicted so much of this work has had to be accelerated, and additional savings will need to be found.

I presented the new Housing Strategy, which outlines the council’s vision for meeting the borough’s housing need within the changing political context.

I also introduced the paper detailing the Business Improvement District (BID) proposal and recommended that the council vote yes in the forthcoming ballot. A BID is an established means of enabling local businesses to contribute to and direct additional services and improvements to their area of operation. The proposed BID area covers Sutton town centre and should improve the business and trading environment.

Next the Executive agreed the appointment of a new leisure centre management operator following the recommendations which emerged from the council’s tendering process.

Cllr Tope then presented a paper recommending the refurbishment of Westcroft Leisure Centre including details of the proposed facility mix. Key matters were the change in size of the main and teaching pools to make them consistent with modern facilities and more able to offer a broader range of use, installation of new plant and technical equipment and the provision of a new library offering extended opening hours to replace the existing one in Carshalton.

Although the project would put some pressure on the revenue budget to finance the prudential borrowing necessary, it was felt that this was a more prudent use of funds than the millions of pounds increasingly required just to keep the outdated facilities maintained and operational. The centre is the most well used in the borough and so it is a key facility for investment.

I highlighted the need for good communication of the year-long closure that would be required to undertake the necessary works.

The Executive also agreed to the setting up of a Shadow Health & Wellbeing Board in Sutton as a first step towards joint commissioning of health and social care services under the Health White Paper.

Also approved was the recommissioning of the HR & Payroll system in partnership with the London Borough of Merton and Royal Borough of Kingston. The change is expected to deliver £600,000 of savings each year across the three boroughs.

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January 24, 2011 - Posted by | Committee Meeting

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