Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 1 - Wallasey Town Hall. View directions
Contact: Andrea Grant Democratic Services Manager
The minutes of the last meeting have been printed and published. Any matters called in will be reported at the meeting.
RECOMMENDATION: That the minutes be approved and adopted.
The Director of Law, H.R. and Asset Management reported that none of the decisions from the previous meeting, held on 5 February, had been called in and those that were subject to Council had been confirmed.
Resolved – That the minutes of the previous meeting be approved and adopted.
Declarations of Interest
The members of the Cabinet are invited to consider whether they have a personal or prejudicial interest in connection with any of the items on this agenda and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of such interest.
The members of the Cabinet were asked to consider whether they had a personal or prejudicial interest in connection with any item on the agenda and, if so, to declare it and to state the nature of such interest. The following declarations were made:
Councillors George Davies, McLaughlin and Stapleton – a personal interest in minute 382 below by virtue of being governors of schools affected by the revised policy for school crossing patrols.
In addition, those Cabinet members who served as school governors declared a personal interest in minute 385 (Schools Budget).
Further to the motion approved by the Council on 15 December 2008 (minute 89 refers), the Director of Technical Services reported on the criteria for a proposed new policy for determining the need for the provision of school crossing patrols. The new policy would mean that seven of the 18 school crossing patrol sites planned for dis-establishment on 1 April 2009 would be retained. It also meant that the remaining sites in the list (Appendix A to the report) would cease to have a crossing patrol. He was satisfied, however, that the new policy was transparent and inclusive and provided a basis for a rolling programme of evaluation.
With regard to the petitions received, the aims of five had been satisfied and two (of a general nature) satisfied in part. The remaining petition related to a crossing (in New Hey Road) that did not meet the criteria, but he was looking into the possibility of adding to the existing traffic calming measures.
In response to a query, he stated that there had been three fatalities in recent years (for 113 crossing sites), but none had involved children.
Resolved - That
(1) the policy for the provision of school crossing patrols outlined in section 3.0 of the Director’s report be approved;
(2) the continued provision of a school crossing patrol at the seven sites listed in paragraph 4.3 from 1 April 2009 be approved, on the basis that they comply with the new policy;
(3) an increase in the school crossing patrol revenue budget of £20,000 from 2009/10 onwards be approved to fund the reinstatement of those seven sites;
(4) the continued provision of a school crossing patrol at the Houghton Road/Glebe Hey Road site for the final summer term (before the closure of Arrowe Hill Primary School) be approved, as suggested in paragraph 4.5;
(5) the various petitions referred to in paragraph 5.1 and listed in Appendix B be noted, and the Director of Technical Services be instructed to write to all lead petitioners advising them of the outcome of this matter.
The Director of Law, H.R. and Asset Management informed the Cabinet of the steps taken to consult non-domestic ratepayers about expenditure proposals for 2009/10. The Council was required to do so by Section 65 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. He stated that no responses had been received to a public advertisement and to letters sent to local bodies representing business interests.
Resolved – That the report be noted.
The Director of Finance presented the draft revenue estimates for 2009/10. A decision was required to enable recommendations to be made to the Council concerning the budget and council tax for 2009/10 This involved a key decision on a matter forming part of the budget and policy framework and it had been included in the Forward Plan.
The Leader of the Council submitted and commented on a motion which set out the budget proposals of the joint administration. He stated that the council tax rise resulting from those proposals would be 4.42%, higher than he had hoped but the best that could be achieved in what had been a very difficult year. A great deal of effort had gone into bringing the budget down to an acceptable level, and the Strategic Asset Review had made a significant contribution (£3.1m) towards that. The increase might have been lower but for the fact that note had been taken that the public of Wirral were prepared to accept a higher level of council tax in order to see a number of premises retained. Councillor Foulkes went on to describe the policy options shown in paragraphs (4) to (6) of his motion.
In seconding the motion and endorsing the Leader’s remarks, the Deputy Leader of the Council described the policy options in paragraphs (7) to (9) and, on a more general point emphasised the amount of £37.4m that the current administration had saved in improved efficiencies.
The Leader of the Council concluded by thanking the officers for their contributions to the budget process and expressed the view that the hard work and difficult decisions over the previous year would put the Council in a stronger financial position for the forthcoming year
At the Leader’s request, the Director of Finance reiterated his earlier remarks regarding the Council’s investment with the Icelandic Bank. The view of the Administrator was that the Bank’s assets exceeded its liabilities, so the Council would be reimbursed, albeit, as was expected, not until 2010.
(1) Delivering a Vision for Wirral
The details of the Schools Budget will be included in the report under item 5.
The Director of Children's Services presented a report which recommended the approval of the Schools Budget for the year 2009/10. He explained that it was the second year of a national three-year funding period for schools (2008-2011). In 2008/09 decisions had been taken about levels of funding based on the government’s stated priorities. The budget had been presented to the Wirral Schools Forum on 21 January 2009: The Forum had supported the overall budget and proposed variations, including a revised arrangement for dealing with excess school balances and the transferring of insurance costs to individual school budgets.
The Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Lifelong Learning moved a recommendation, duly seconded, and explained the detail behind each of the recommendations, in particular the fact that they would help to maintain and improve further the high levels of attainment among Wirral pupils.
(1) Cabinet welcomes the increase in funding from Government through Dedicated Schools Grant of £4.4m for 2009/10 and £5.9m for 2010/11. This amounts to over £10m more for Wirral schools over the next two years.
(2) Cabinet recommends to Council that the Schools Budget for 2009/10 be set at the level of the adjusted Dedicated Schools Grant which is £188,136,200. This equates to an increase of 3.9% per pupil.
(3) Cabinet notes that for 2010/11, the adjusted Dedicated Schools Grant will be £194,121,000, which equates to an increase of 4.4% per pupil.
(4) It is acknowledged that these increases are above the current CPI rate of inflation and that they compare favourably with the average national increases per pupil in 2009/10 of 3.7% and 2010/11 of 4.3%.
(5) Cabinet recognises that this budget will help the Council to achieve one of the strategic objectives in the Corporate Plan, which is to raise the aspirations of young people. This funding will also contribute towards the four themes in the Children and Young People’s Plan:
(6) Cabinet notes that the increase in funding per pupil of 3.9% in 2009/10 includes the following spending assessment by the Government: Minimum Funding Guarantee (2.1%) and Government priorities (0.8%).
(7) Cabinet notes that the Government has set the Minimum Funding Guarantee at 2.1% for the period 2008-2011. This is 1% below the assessment of average cost pressures and assumes an efficiency gain in schools, as part of national public sector efficiency requirements.
(8) The projected budget of 2009-2011 includes the following items (for detail see Appendix 1 of the Director’s report):
Provision is included for teachers and other pay at 2% and income at 3%. Provision has also been included for price inflation at 2%.
Headroom is the difference between the DSG and the budget required to continue funding schools at their current level, after allowing for inflation, unavoidable cost pressures and the Minimum Funding Guarantee. Cabinet notes the decision taken ... view the full minutes text for item 385.
The Director of Law, H.R. and Asset Management reported, in accordance with Standing Order 13, on a proposed procedure for the Budget meeting of the Council.
Resolved – That the Budget Council procedure, set out in the appendix to the Director’s report, be recommended to the Council, but that the deadline for the submission of alternative budget proposals be extended to 10.00am on Thursday 26 February.