Agenda and minutes

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No. Item



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Apologies were received from Councillors M Angell, M Baldwin, P Bass, K Bates, J Baum, A Christensen, L Clarke OBE, A Collingwood, M Dormer, M Fayyaz, P Griffin, P Irwin, S James, C Jones, P Kelly, J MacBean, G Smith, M Stannard, D Summers, G Wadhwa, J Ward and K Wood.  Apologies were also received from Lady Howe, Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, Ms Debbie Brock, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, and from Nick Graham.


Dr John Warder MBE and Mrs Gillian Miscampbell OBE DL

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Tributes were paid to Dr John Warder MBE, a past Leader and Chairman of Chiltern District Council, and to Mrs Gillian Miscampbell OBE DL, a past Buckinghamshire County Council Chairman and Honorary Alderman of the County Council and then the Buckinghamshire Council.  The Chairman recorded sincere condolences to both families on their sad losses.


Dr Warder was a Member of Chiltern District Council from 1991 to 2015 representing the Central Ward.  Some of his appointments during 24 years on the Council included Cabinet Member for Environmental Services Management 2000-2007(a portfolio which included licensing & regulation, homelessness, and Personnel (2004-2007); Leader of Chiltern District Council 2007-2010; Chairman of Chiltern District Council 2011-13 (2 years); and work on other Committees including Standards, Boundaries & Electoral Arrangements, Constitution Review, and Personnel.


Mrs Miscampbell was a Member of the Buckinghamshire County Council from 1977 to 1993 representing the Waddesdon Electoral Ward.  Some of her appointments during16 years included serving as Chairman of the County Council from 1989 to 1993.  In 1982 she was awarded an OBE for Public and Political Services and in 1993 was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for the county of Buckinghamshire.  She was appointed in 2010 as an Honorary Alderman by the County Council.


Members then observed a minute’s silence in the memory of Dr John Warder MBE and Mrs Gillian Miscampbell OBE DL.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 168 KB

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That the Minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2022 be approved as a correct record.


Declarations of Interest

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Councillors M Ayub, A Bond, R Carington, E Culverhouse, P Gomm, A Hussain, C Jackson, D King, R Matthews, S Raja, S Wilson and A Wood declared a prejudicial interest in Agenda item number 10 (Council Tax changes to the second home discount) and left the Council Chamber whilst this matter was discussed and decided.



Chairman's Update

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The Chairman informed Members that this would be the last Council meeting attended by Gill Quinton, the Corporate Director for Adults and Health.

Gill had joined the County Council in 2005 and would soon be leaving the Council after 18 years working for the County Council and the Buckinghamshire Council.  On behalf of all Members, the Chairman thanked Gill for all her hard work with the Council.  The Chairman invited Cllr A Macpherson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, who similarly thanked Gill for all her support, assistance, and hard work over a number of years, most recently since the formation of the new Council and work associated with the Council’s response to the Covid pandemic.


On behalf of all Members and the staff of the Council, the Chairman extended thoughts and prayers to everyone impacted by the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, including Buckinghamshire residents who had family and friends in those countries. The Chairman also extended thoughts and prayers to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people as the first anniversary approached of the conflict and invasion of that country.


Since the last Council meeting, events the Chairman had attended had included the ‘Knife Angel’ opening and closing ceremonies in Milton Keynes; Chairman’s presentation to John Campbell OBE on his 90th birthday; Carol Services for the Aylesbury Town Mayor, BMKFA and Chesham Town; Proud of Bucks 2022 Staff Awards; National Paralympic Heritage Trust tree planting event; the Aladdin pantomime gala night; switching on the Christmas lights at Marlow Park; judging the Council’s Christmas jumper competition; RAF Halton graduation ceremony; Chinese New Year celebration event, Honorary Alderman afternoon tea and garden party draw; and 2 citizenship ceremonies.  The Chairman thanked everyone who had attended a charity event at Pinewood studios on 30 January and the showing of the movie ‘Grease’ that had raised over £3,400 for Macmillan Cancer Support.


Members were reminded that a Civic Service was being held on Sunday 12 March 2023 at All Saints Church, High Wycombe.


The Vice Chairman of the Council also detailed events she had attended since the last Council meeting which included the 600th anniversary event for the Royal Latin School, the Chairman’s charity event at Pinewood studios, the Mayor of Wycombe’s Civic Service, the memorial service for Mrs Gillian Miscampbell OBE DL, and a number of citizenship ceremonies.



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There were none.


Chief Financial Officer's Statutory Report pdf icon PDF 224 KB

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The Chairman welcomed Mr D Skinner, the Council’s Section 151 Officer to the meeting. Mr Skinner presented his report and highlighted that he was statutorily required to report to the Council on the robustness of the estimates made for the purposes of the calculations of the budget and on the adequacy of the proposed financial reserves.  The Council was required to have due regard to the report when making decisions on the budget.


It was highlighted that the Medium Term Financial Plan had been subject to frequent and rigorous challenge and review during its development, including the public meetings of the Budget Scrutiny Inquiry group held in January 2023. Members were informed that the budget proposals recommended by the Cabinet were robust and sustainable.


There were risks associated with the budget proposals and these were set out in the budget papers and at paragraph 4.5 of his report.  These included inflation and national economic conditions, central Government funding, complexity and demand in social care and client transport, increased demand for temporary accommodation, and the sustainability of providers within the Social Care market and Care Reforms.  The budget did however contain contingencies that were detailed in Appendix 1 to the budget papers.


Alongside the development of the budget proposals, there had been consideration of the level of reserves held by the council and the likely balances going forward.  A ratio of 5% of net revenue expenditure was the generally accepted minimum prudent level of General Fund reserves. The forecast Council’s General Fund reserves of £47.8m were 9.5% of net operating expenditure at the end of 2023/24.  As such, the Section 151 Officer had concluded that he considered the budget proposals recommended by the Cabinet to be robust and sustainable.


The Section 151 Officer also stated that he was aware of a proposed amendment to the budget to allocate an additional £5m to road maintenance.  If passed, this would still leave the Council’s General Fund reserves at £42.8m or 8.5% of net operating expenditure at the end of 2023/24 and would still be deemed to be adequate.  The level of reserves held would still exceed the minimum best practice amount of 5% and exceed the reserves held by similar sized unitary authorities, in both percentage terms and absolute value.




That the report be noted.


Medium Term Financial Plan 2023/24 and Capital Programme pdf icon PDF 337 KB

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The Chairman invited Councillor M Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, to introduce the report to Members on the proposed 2023/24 revenue budget and capital programme for Buckinghamshire Council.  It was noted that the Council Tax Resolution (Appendix 4) was found in the supplementary agenda pack. The following key points were highlighted:


·               Councillor Tett thanked all those who had helped shape the budget, this included majority members of the Portfolio Challenge groups, Cabinet Members, the cross-party Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group, the Chief Executive and her Senior Leadership Team as well as the Section 151 Officer.

·               That a lack of continuity in central Government in the last year (3 Prime Ministers, 4 Chancellors and 4 Secretaries of State for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) had created uncertainty for Council budget setting.

·               That the Council had focussed on delivering ‘front line’ services, alongside the ongoing improvement journey, despite the many challenges faced in the past year.

·               That external influences such as the war in Ukraine and significant increases in inflation and fuel prices had a major impact during the last year on the Council’s finances, as well as imposing cost of living pressures on a significant number of residents.

·               That the Helping Hands service had taken near 14,000 calls this year. Working with the voluntary sector the Helping Hands programme had provided critical help to those in need, with a crisis fund with the Heart of Bucks having raised over £180K to date.

·               That while there would be continued pressures from the war in Ukraine and economic uncertainty, there was a prospect of some economic and social recovery during 2023 although it was still unclear what the new ‘normal’ would be.  However, the Buckinghamshire Council would be there to support that recovery for all.

·               That while the Council had set a Revenue Budget for 3 years last February, the continuing financial uncertainty meant that the Budget this year was now a one-year Revenue plan.

·               That the Council was impacted by the current Government’s strategy of moving funds away from the South East as part of the Levelling Up programme.

·               That, as set out last year, Reserves would be used this year to help balance the budget.

·               That the Council was in a better financial position than many other Councils, some of whom were on the edge of bankruptcy through heavy expenditure, lost income, deferred savings, lack of financial control or poor governance.

·               On the budget building principles – one-year revenue budget, 4-year capital budget to provide investment in key schemes and to support local economic recovery and growth, whilst also identifying and mitigating risk and always remembering that this was taxpayers’ money.

·               On the Revenue Budget principles and the Council’s Core Spending Power.

·               On the revenue budget trends for individual portfolios, which highlighted the main growth areas / expenditure for Health and Wellbeing, Education and Children’s Services, and for Transportation.  The budgets for Accessible Housing and Resources and Homelessness and Regulatory Services were also increasing as a result of pressures  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Council Tax Support Fund pdf icon PDF 179 KB

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Councillor Chilver, Cabinet Member for Accessible Housing and Resources introduced the report and explained that Central Government had provided funds to the Council under S31 of the Local Government Act 2003 with the proviso that all monies were paid strictly in accordance with S13a (1) (c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and in line with guidance issued on 23 December 2022.


The fund, named by Central Government as the ‘Council Tax Support Fund’ was designed to meet the immediate needs of all taxpayers who were currently claiming Council Tax Reduction (CTR). The mandatory element was to award all recipients of Council Tax Reduction (both working age and pension age) with a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of up to £25. This reduction would apply to all Council Tax Reduction recipients who had an outstanding liability for the 2023-24 financial year.


Buckinghamshire proposed after applying the mandatory reduction in liability above, that the Council would continue to make similar discretionary payments to all applicants who became eligible for Council Tax Reduction for the first time after 1 April 2023.  The report proposed an additional policy framework that set out the Council’s approach to the award of the mandatory and discretionary elements of the Council Tax Support Fund from 1 April 2023, that was a new policy in addition to the existing Council Tax Reduction Scheme Policy.


It was proposed by Councillor Chilver, seconded by Councillor Butcher, and




That the discretionary Council Tax Support Fund policy for Buckinghamshire local Council tax support claimants be ADOPTED, as detailed in Appendix A to the Council report.


Care Leaver Council Tax Disregard pdf icon PDF 184 KB

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Councillor Chilver, Cabinet Member for Accessible Housing and Resources introduced the report on a Discretionary Council Tax (CT) Discount scheme for Buckinghamshire Council Care Leavers, which would work alongside the Local Offer to support young care leavers in taking on the responsibility of having their own property and being able to support themselves financially.


One of the key points of the Local Offer was for Buckinghamshire Council to meet the obligation of paying Council Tax for the Care Leaver up until the age of 21 where they continued to interact with the Leaving Care team.  This included paying any council tax due, after any discounts or benefit have been applied.  Under Council Tax legislation the Council could set local discounts that applied to certain properties and/or certain groups of people.


Currently, care leavers were required to pay their CT bill and then forward it to the Leaving Care team, with Children’s Services then claiming the discount on behalf of care leavers.  It was proposed that it would be more efficient to apply the discount directly to the council tax account.  By applying the CT discount upfront it would simplify and streamline the process and reduce administrative work and expenditure.


Several Members spoke and were fully supportive of the proposed new arrangement.  It was also mentioned that the new process would also bring Buckinghamshire in line with many other local authorities.


It was proposed by Councillor Chilver, seconded by Councillor Butcher, and




That the Discretionary Council Tax Discount Scheme for Buckinghamshire Council Care Leavers be ADOPTED, as detailed in Appendix A to the Council report. 


Council Tax changes to the Second Home discount pdf icon PDF 205 KB

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Councillor Chilver, Cabinet Member for Accessible Housing and Resources, introduced a report which proposed the removal of the 10% discount for second homes in Buckinghamshire with effect from 1 April 2023.  This would encourage taxpayers to use premises as their main residence or allow others to use the premises as a main residence and raise additional council tax revenue.


There were currently 753 homes in Buckinghamshire receiving a 10% discount for a second home.  It was estimated that the removal of the 10% discount on second homes would bring a benefit to the Council of approximately £157k p.a. and £37k p.a. to other preceptors.


Several Members spoke and were fully supportive of removing the second home discount.


It was proposed by Councillor Chilver, seconded by Councillor Butcher, and




That the 10% Council Tax discount on second homes be removed with effect from 1 April 2023.


Please note:  Councillors M Ayub, A Bond, R Carington, E Culverhouse, P Gomm, A Hussain, C Jackson, D King, R Matthews, S Raja, S Wilson, and A Wood declared a prejudicial interest in this agenda item and left the Council Chamber whilst this matter was discussed and decided.



Treasury Management Strategy 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 248 KB

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Councillor Butcher, Deputy Cabinet Member for Resources, introduced Buckinghamshire Council’s Treasury Management Strategy 2023-24, that was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. It was noted that it was a requirement for each local authority to approve a Treasury Management Strategy by 1 April each year. This strategy had been developed in line with the CIPFA code of practice.


The Council continued to pursue a strategy of keeping borrowing and investments below their underlying levels, sometimes known as internal borrowing, to reduce risk and keep external financing costs low. The Council would continue the strategy of internal borrowing while it made sense to do so. In the current economic climate, it was considered appropriate to maintain a degree of liquidity to cover cash flow needs but the Council would also consider investing for periods of up to 12 months with high credit rated financial institutions, whilst investment rates remain elevated.  The Council was considering opportunities for investments with longer exposure, but also ensuring that there was sufficient liquidity to meeting any short-term significant costs that may arise.


The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee had made clear at its November 2022 meeting that further rate increases were in the pipeline and markets expect Bank Rate to peak at 4.5%-4.75%. As such, investing in 2023/24 was likely to be conducted, first, in a rising interest rate environment, but then potentially in a falling interest rate environment at the end of the financial year.  This would depend on how quickly inflation fell back and on levels of economic growth.


The Council’s main objective when borrowing money was to strike an appropriately low risk balance between securing low interest costs and achieving certainty of those costs over the period for which funds are required. The continuation of the Council’s strategy of using surplus cash instead of external borrowing, keeping external financing costs low.  The Council was actively reviewing opportunities for rescheduling long term debt.


The only proposed change to the 2023/24 TMSS compared to the 2022/23 TMSS was to amend the section for investments with other local authorities so that the investment could only be placed with the prior approval of the Council Leader, the Chief Executive and the Service Director of Finance (Section 151 officer) or deputies in the case of leave. Furthermore, if a local authority that the Council had invested in subsequently issued a section 114 or is given a capitalisation directive, or any other untoward financial event experienced by an authority who the Council held an investment in would be reported to the Audit and Governance Committee at the earliest opportunity.  Members were informed that Slough and Thurrock Councils had fully repaid on time the loans made to them.


Several Members commented on the tightening of rules for lending to other local authorities.  It was explained that a local authority had never defaulted on repaying a loan to another local authority although it was prudent and reputationally unsound not to lend to any authority that was experiencing financial difficulties.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Capital and Investment Strategy pdf icon PDF 227 KB

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Councillor Chilver, Cabinet Member for Accessible Housing and Resources introduced the draft Capital and Investment Strategy 2023/24, attached as Appendix 1 to the report. It was noted that the Council was required to approve this strategy on an annual basis and that it had been developed in line with the CIPFA and MHCLG guidance.


The Capital and Investment Strategy provided the framework within which to deliver the Council’s Corporate Plan objectives through the effective investment of its limited capital resources. As well as the Councils immediate statutory responsibilities, the strategy also reflected the important role that it had to play in the regeneration and growth, affordable housing and climate change agendas, especially in the context of a post-Covid recovery and the significant housing growth in the area.


The Cabinet Member explained that not all capital proposals could be funded this year however the Council would conduct a full review of future capital funding and of capital receipts as a part of next year’s budget process. Section 7 of the Strategy outlined the key risks and Section 8 outlined the governance and processes around capital proposals and budgeting decisions.  It was also mentioned that a capital governance review would be undertaken later in the year to ensure that these systems and processes remained fit for purpose.  The Strategy as submitted to Council had been approved by the Corporate Capital Board and by Cabinet.


Members asked a number of questions on the strategy and were informed:

·       That the Cabinet Member agreed with a Member about the need to consider more capital investment projects, subject to robust business cases, that could potentially offset revenue pressures.  This had also been raised by the Budget Scrutiny Inquiry and Cabinet had responded that this was already the approach taken by the Council.

·       On the measure the Council was taking in the south of the Council area relating to temporary housing which included Bridge Court and retaining Saunderton Lodge.  The Council was always actively on the lookout for additional properties that could be used for temporary and emergency accommodation, and to house refugees.

·       That the Council had never had to return Section 106 funding or CIL contributions to parties/developers.  The Council was in active discussions with Homes England about HIF Funding, with there being no indication that any of this funding would be at risk.

·       That the Council was continuing to develop the strategy for soclal and affordable housing.

·       That the Council’s policy for many years had been to not sell any of the agricultural estate but to maximise income from it.  That position remained unchanged.


It was proposed by Councillor Chilver, seconded by Councillor Butcher, and




That the Capital and Investment Strategy attached at Appendix 1 be APPROVED.  


Committee Proportionality pdf icon PDF 318 KB

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The Chairman stated that a report on Committee Proportionality was included at agenda item number 13.


Members were informed by the Monitoring Officer that Group Leaders had been consulted and had agreed on the allocation of seats on Council Committee to political groups, as detailed at Appendix 1.




That the allocation of seats on Council Committees to political groups as detailed at Appendix 1 be APPROVED. 


Report for information - Key Decisions Report pdf icon PDF 194 KB

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A list of decisions taken by Cabinet Members since the last Full Council meeting on 30 November 2022 were received and noted.


Date of Next Meeting

Wednesday 26 April 2023 at 4.00pm

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The next full Council meeting was scheduled to take place on Wednesday 26 April 2023 at 4pm.