Agenda and minutes

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Apologies were received from Councillors R Bagge, M Baldwin, A Christensen, P Cooper, M Dormer, T Green, P Griffin, S Guy, G Harris, T Hogg, P Irwin, M Knight, J Rush, N Southworth, D Thompson and A Wood. Apologies were also received from Countess Howe, his Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, and from Dame Ann Limb DBE DL, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire.


His Majesty King Charles III and Catherine, Princess of Wales

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On behalf of the Council, Councillors, staff and residents of Buckinghamshire, the Chairman extended thoughts and prayers to His Majesty King Charles III and Catherine, Princess of Wales, on a speedy recovery to full health.


Right Reverend Dr Alan Wilson Bishop of Buckingham, Jean Teesdale and Jennifer Woolveridge

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Tribute was paid to the Right Reverend Dr Alan Wilson Bishop of Buckingham who had passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, and to former Councillors Jean Teesdale and Jennifer Woolveridge who had recently passed away.  The Chairman recorded sincere condolences to their families on their sad losses.


Bishop Wilson had served as the Bishop of Buckingham for over 20 years and had spent his entire ordained ministry within the Diocese of Oxford.  Prayers had been said at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford on Saturday and across the county on Sunday.  Bishop Wilson was an exceptional teacher and preacher and would be deeply missed.  The Chairman has sent a handwritten note to Mrs Lucy Wilson on behalf of the Council.


Councillors Lesley Clarke OBE, Julia Wassell and David Carroll paid tribute to Jean Teesdale who had been a Member of Wycombe District Council from 1978 to 1999 and again from 2003 to 2020, serving as Chairman of the Council during 2006-2007.  She had also served as a Councillor for Buckinghamshire County Council from 2013 to 2020 representing the Chiltern Villages Electoral Division, and as a Member of Buckinghamshire Council from 2020-2021.  Jean had been appointed as an Honorary Alderman of Buckinghamshire Council in July 2021 for her services to Local Government.


During her time at Wycombe DC, Jean represented the West Central (HW) Ward and then the Cressex and Frogmoor Ward during her initial period of service and was also the Town Mayor during 1983 – 84. Jean had been subsequently elected as Ward Member for the Chiltern Rise Ward in 2003. Over the years she had served on many Committees from the Environment Services Committee to the Planning Committee and as Cabinet Member for Planning then Environment for a number of years.


During her time at BCC, some of Jean’s appointments had included Chairman of the Development Control Committee, serving on a number of Select Committees and the Bucks & Milton Keynes Fire Authority, and as Deputy Cabinet Member for Children’s Services (2015-2017) and Deputy Cabinet Member for Communities (2018-2019).


Councillors Santokh Chhokar and Isobel Darby paid tribute to Jennifer Woolveridge who had been a Member of South Bucks District Council from 1995 to 2015 representing the Gerrards Cross South Ward.  During her time on the Council she had served on the Housing and Health Committee and then Environment and Housing Committees, the Planning Committee from 2002-2015, and was Cabinet Member for Health and Housing from 2005-2015.  She had served on the Chiltern and South Bucks Joint Committee from 2012-2015.


She had also been a founder Board Member of the Padstones charity which provides supported accommodation to young people aged 16 to 25 years who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in 2019 for services to older people and to the community in South Buckinghamshire.


Members then observed a minute’s silence in memory of the Right Reverend Dr Alan Wilson, Jean Teesdale and Jennifer Woolveridge.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 218 KB

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That the Minutes of the Council meeting held on 6 December 2023 be approved as a correct record.


Declarations of Interest

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Councillors A Alam, M Angell, M Ayub, A Baughan, A Bond, N Brown, R Carington, D Carroll, L Clarke OBE, E Culverhouse, I Darby, M Fayyaz, P Gomm, C Harriss, G Hollis, A Hussain, I Hussain, Mahboob Hussain OBE, Maz Hussain, A Macpherson, P Martin, R Matthews, M Rand, Sir B Stanier, P Turner and J Ward declared a personal or prejudicial interest relating to Agenda Item number 7 (Changes to Council Tax Discounts and Premiums) and left the Council Chamber whilst this item was discussed and decided.


Councillors A Collingwood and K Wood declared a personal interest (relating to Agenda Item number 7) and remained in the Council Chamber whilst this item was discussed and decided.


Chairman's Update

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The Chairman congratulated Councillor Mahboob Hussain who had been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the community in Buckinghamshire in the King’s New Year’s Honours List.


The Chairman also informed Members that this would be the last Council meeting attended by Nick Graham, the Service Director of Legal and Democratic Services.  Nick had joined the Council in 2020 and would soon be leaving the Council to take on a Coroners role in Oxfordshire.  On behalf of all Members, the Chairman thanked Nick for all his hard work with the Council and with Members.


Since the last Council meeting, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Council had attended a number of events including the Council’s Proud of You Awards, where the Council acknowledged the hard work of staff, and Wendy Morgan-Brown had been awarded the Council’s Employee of the Year.


The Chairman and Vice Chairman had attended Carol Services, Christmas concerts and the pantomime, and on 10 January 2024 had attended the Guarantor’s Christmas lunch for the oldest residents in Wycombe.  They had attended the graduation ceremonies last week at the Buckingham New University and attended six citizenship ceremonies in January and February.


On 20 February, the Chairman and Councillor Gomm had attended Clarence House for the 15th anniversary celebration of the Medical Detection Dogs. They had both met the Queen and talked about the support the Council gave to the charity through the Community Boards and as the Chairman’s nominated charity.  On behalf of Buckinghamshire Council, the Chairman had expressed best wishes to his Majesty King Charles and learnt that he was making good progress.


Finally, the Chairman mentioned that 24 February would be the second anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine.  Almost a thousand Ukrainian families were living in Buckinghamshire and on behalf of the Council sincere thanks were sent to the 292 sponsors, Community Boards and others who did such a magnificent job in supporting the families.



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There were none.


Chief Financial Officer's Statutory Report pdf icon PDF 161 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 which had started in March 2023 soon after the last budget had been agreed and had included the public meetings of the Budget Scrutiny Inquiry group held in January 2024.


Members were informed that the budget proposals recommended by the Cabinet were robust and sustainable. There were risks associated with the budget proposals that were set out in the budget papers and summarised at paragraph 4.5 of his report to Council.  These included but were not limited to demand and complexity in adults and children’s social care and client transport, wider inflationary pressures, the delivery of savings, the degree of income expectations in the medium term, and uncertainty around the future of local government funding.


The budget had some contingencies to mitigate these risks, as detailed at Section 5.1 of the MTFP, alongside the development of the budget review of reserved undertaken during the year.  The level and usage of reserves was detailed at Appendix A.  General Fund Reserves (i.e. unallocated reserves) was currently £42.8m or 7.9% of net operating expenditure, which was above the generally accepted minimum recommended level of 5%.


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 reduce the level of reserves held but they would still exceed the minimum best practice amount.


Members were informed that information on the additional monies that the Government had allocated for social care was set out in the budget papers.  The money had been allocated to social care contingency.




That the report be noted.


Change to Council Tax Discounts and Premiums pdf icon PDF 175 KB

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The Cabinet Member for Accessible Housing and Resources introduced the report and informed Members that following a review of Council Tax discounts and premiums Council was being recommended to:

-          Remove the current discounts for empty properties with effect from 1 April 2025, that would simplify Council tax administration and bring Buckinghamshire Council in line with most neighbouring authorities.

-          Amend the 100% premium currently charged on empty homes, so that it applied after one year, rather than two years.  This could be done through a power granted by last year’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Act and was intended to encourage the bringing of empty properties back into active use as soon as possible.

-          Adopt the policy with effect from 1 April 2025, in order to give relevant homeowners a year’s notice of the proposed changes.


Members were informed that the circumstances under which empty homes premiums should not be applied was still awaiting the outcome from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities consultation, as detailed at paragraph 3.4 of the Council report.


The Chairman informed Members that an amendment on this item had been received that she intended to deal with next. The amendment was proposed by Councillor S Wilson, seconded by Councillor R Stuchbury.  The amendment wording was:


“This Council notes that:

·               Buckinghamshire faces considerable pressure on housing in line with the wider national picture. In turn, this puts pressure on Buckinghamshire Council to facilitate the delivery of new housing at all levels of the market, including more affordable housing, as well as providing infrastructure and additional public services. The negative impact of an increase in second home ownership can be measured in terms of the supply of homes available to meet local housing need. Second homes can also result in residents being priced out of the housing market in certain situations. The rationale behind increasing council tax on second homes is to encourage lower levels of second home ownership or to increase contributions for those who continue to own second homes to help fund vital local services.

·               At the Full Council meeting on the 22 February 2023 the Council made the decision to remove the 10% discount on second homes to help encourage the active occupation of properties as a primary residence in Buckinghamshire. This covered 753 homes at that point resulting in approximately £157k to the Council and £27k to other preceptors. From 1st April 2023 there was no discount available for second homes outside of approved exemptions.

·               On 26 October 2023, The Levelling-Up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA) received Royal Assent and Section 73 of The Act provides councils the discretion to charge additional council tax of up to 100% on all residential dwellings which are occupied periodically, substantially furnished and no one is resident for council tax purposes i.e. second homes.

·               Under Section 73(2)(3), any decision to increase the council tax on second homes must be made at least one year prior to the beginning of the financial year from which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Medium Term Financial Plan 2024/25 to 2026/27 and Capital Programme 2024/25 to 2027/28 pdf icon PDF 157 KB

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The Chairman invited Councillor M Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, to introduce the report to Members on the proposed Medium Tern Financial Plan 2024/25 to 2026/27 and Capital Programme 2024/25 to 2027/28.  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 and Deputy Members, the cross-party Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group, the Chief Executive and her Senior Leadership Team as well as the Section 151 Officer and his finance team.

·       That there had been considerable risks involved in putting together the budget, which had been impacted by uncertainty, with international turmoil, the ongoing war in Ukraine, recent disruption and strikes, cost of living pressures through the year, political uncertainty with a general election looming, all alongside significant increased demand for Council services.  One of the biggest surprises was the rise in the national minimum wage which while very welcomed also added a £3m pressure to the budget.  Inflationary pressures would add £36m to the budget over the 3 year MTFP period.

·       That a lack of clarity on the Local Government Finance Settlement until a couple of weeks ago had created uncertainty for Council budget setting.

·       That the whole local government was under intense pressure, with a number of Councils really struggling with their finances.

·       That the budget building principles had included a return to a 3 year revenue budget, continuing to deliver the Corporate Plan and Manifesto commitments, a 4 year capital budget to provide investment in key schemes and to support local economic recovery and growth, and to open about risk so that it was identified, quantified, where possible mitigated.

·       £45m savings had been achieved between 2020 and 2022, with £30.4million savings being delivered in 2023/24.  This would mean that £75.4m of savings (17.1% of the 2020/21 net budget had been achieved in the first 4 years of the new unitary Council.  Further major new efficiencies, savings and additional income of £95.3m would be generated over the course of the MTFP meaning that by the end of 2026/27, £170.7m in income and savings will have been realised in the first 7 years of the new unitary Council.

·       That there were very strong demand pressures within the budget in four key areas:  adults and children’s social care, temporary accommodation, and Home to School Transport (£97.4m).  These problems were common across the local government sector.

·       That the MTFP recognised the importance of having corporate contingencies in place to mitigate very high financial risks / uncertainties.

·       That key changes since the draft budget included intense lobbying of central Government for additional funding for local government, which had let to an announcement of £600m additional funding for all of local government and a one-off social care grant and funding guarantee of £5m.

·       That changes to Council Tax Premiums around empty homes (under the Levelling Up Act) had allowed the following planned savings to be removed from the final budget (reinstate litter collection £200k, reinstate gully cleansing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Treasury Management Strategy 2024-25 to 2026-27 pdf icon PDF 443 KB

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Councillor Butcher, Deputy Cabinet Member for Resources, introduced the Buckinghamshire Council’s Treasury Management Strategy 2024-25 to 2026-27.  The Local Government Act 2003 (“the Act”) and the Regulations made under the Act required the Council to have regard to the Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities and to set Prudential Indicators for the next three years to ensure that the Council’s capital investment plans were affordable, prudent and sustainable.


The Act also required the Council to set out a statement of its treasury management strategy for borrowing and to prepare an Annual Investment Strategy (AIS) (as shown in Appendix 1).  This set out the Council’s policies for managing its investments and for giving priority to the security and liquidity of those investments. The Treasury Management Strategy Statement and Annual Investment Strategy both had to have regard to guidance issued by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and must be agreed annually by Full Council.


Treasury management at the Council was conducted within the framework of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s Treasury Management in the Public Services: Code of Practice 2021 Edition (the CIPFA Code) which requires the Council to approve a treasury management strategy before the start of each financial year. The Council report fulfilled the Council’s legal obligation under the Local Government Act 2003 to have regard to the CIPFA Code. 


The Investment Strategy was considered separately within the Capital and Investment Strategy. The TMSS and AIS formed part of the Council’s overall budget setting and financial framework.


The Deputy Cabinet Member mentioned the importance of the strategy to the Council as it set out how the treasury management team was able to invest monies and to maximise income from investments that helped to support the delivery of Council services.  The Treasury Management Strategy had already been considered and agreed by the Audit and Governance Committee.


It was moved by Councillor Butcher, seconded by Councillor Newcombe, and




That the Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2024/25 be approved which includes:

(1)               The Treasury Management Strategy Statement.

(2)               The Borrowing Strategy as set out in Section 4.

(3)               The Prudential Indicators (PI) set out in Sections 3, 4 and 5.

(4)               The Annual Investment Strategy set out in Appendix 1.

(5)               The Minimum Revenue Provision Policy set out in Appendix 2.


Capital and Investment Strategy pdf icon PDF 150 KB

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Councillor Chilver, Cabinet Member for Accessible Housing and Resources introduced the draft Capital and Investment Strategy 2024/25, 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 DLUHC 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 significant housing growth in the area.  The latest update to the strategy, Appendix 1, proposed minor amendments to keep it up-to-date and in alignment with the Corporate Plan priorities and these included recent new strategies such as the Regeneration Strategy and Accommodation Strategy, and a revised section on corporate capital development.


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




That the Capital and Investment Strategy (Appendix 1) be agreed.


Appointment of Returning Officer and Electoral Registration Officer pdf icon PDF 196 KB

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In accordance with Section 35 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, the Returning Officer was required to be appointed from among the officers of the Council by the Council. The role of the Returning Officer was one of a personal nature and distinct and separate from their duties as an employee of the council. Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 also set out that a Council should designate an individual to the role of Electoral Registration Officer.


The role of the Returning Officer was to ensure that all elections were administered effectively and conducted in accordance with the law. The role was separate from duties as an employee of the Council, and the Returning Officer was not responsible to the Council. The role was directly accountable to the courts as an independent statutory office holder. Similarly, the role of Electoral Registration Officer was to ensure the delivery of the electoral registration function, maintaining the electoral register and managing all electoral registration functions.


Part I, Section 3 of the Council’s Constitution set out the list of Statutory and Proper Officers for the Council. The Service Director for Legal and Democratic Services was the current Council Returning Officer and Electoral Registration Officer, however following the resignation of the existing postholder, there was a need to appoint a replacement officer to these roles with effect from 8 March 2024.  This was particularly important as the Police and Crime Commissioner elections would be held on 2 May 2024, and the next General Election also had to take place no later than January 2025. The next local council elections would be held on 1 May 2025.




That Sarah Ashmead (Deputy Chief Executive) be appointed as the Council’s Returning Officer and Electoral Registration Officer with effect from 8 March 2024, and the Constitution be updated to reflect the appointment.


Report for information - Key Decisions Report pdf icon PDF 187 KB

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A list of decisions taken by Cabinet Members since the last Full Council meeting on 6 December 2023 were received and noted.


Date of Next Meeting

17 April 2024

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The next full Council meeting was scheduled to take place on Wednesday 17 April 2024 at 4pm.