Agenda and minutes

Budget Council, County Council - Thursday 8 February 2024 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Shire Hall. View directions

Contact: Deb Moseley  Democratic Services Team Leader


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The Chair opened the meeting and invited Councillor Izzi Seccombe to make a statement regarding events surrounding the complaints received about comments made at the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 25 January 2024.? 


Councillor Seccombe acknowledged and expressed concern about the upset that had been caused by members of her Group and the repercussions on the Council, commenting on the damage to the Council’s relationship with the SEND community and the confidence which Warwickshire children with SEND, and their families, had in the Council.? She also expressed concern about the reputation of the Council.? She added that in undertaking their role, councillors should not be fearful of threat or abuse. In her closing comments, Councillor Seccombe offered unwavering commitment to supporting children with SEND and their families and doing all she could to redeem the Council’s relationship with the SEND community and to rebuild confidence between SEND families and the Council, setting out the steps that she intended to take. 


The Leaders of each of the political groups were invited to respond.


Councillor John Holland (Labour) commented that he considered the best way to restore confidence in the Service was to deliver a good quality service with assessments of children’s needs completed in a timely way and ensuring that identified needs were met.? He expressed the view that it was important to deal with the complaints that had been received in an open and transparent way.  Councillor Holland shared the view of his group that mandatory training was essential for all councillors.


Councillor Jerry Roodhouse (Liberal Democrat) expressed sadness and anger at the situation the Council found itself in and regret that the comments made at the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee had destroyed the hard work undertaken by staff which he found unacceptable. He expressed the view that the three councillors concerned should be removed from membership of the overview and scrutiny committee and felt that they should consider their own position and stand down. He urged the Leader to take swift action recognising that the volume of complaints was slowing down the investigation process.  He commented on the need to support officers at this time and to reassure them of the Council’s commitment to work together on SEND and pursuing an integrated care pathway.  


Councillor Jonathan Chilvers (Green) thanked parents from SEND groups for attending the meeting.? He expressed his distress about the views that had been voiced in the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny meeting which had shown a lack of understanding and empathy for the SEND community. He stressed the importance of parents, officers and councillors working together to support children with special needs.? In conclusion, Councillor Chilvers echoed calls for training and questioned whether Councillor Seccombe intended to suspend the whip from the councillors concerned.


Councillor Judy Falp (Independent) thanked the public for their attendance and stressed the importance of hearing parents’ voices. She expressed her concern about the impact of the statements made at the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1.


Apologies for Absence

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Councillors Richard Baxter-Payne, Bill Gifford, Clare Golby, Brian Hammersley, Andy Jenns, Sarah Millar, Jeff Morgan, Daren Pemberton and Ian Shenton.


Members’ Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-pecuniary Interests

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Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 130 KB

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The minutes of the meeting of Council held on 19 December 2023 were agreed as an accurate record for signing by the Chair.


Chair's announcements

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King Charles III


Following the news of the King’s cancer diagnosis, the Chair sought support to send His Majesty a letter on behalf of the Council expressing best wishes for a swift recovery.




The Chair noted that this had been difficult budget round and thanked officers from across the council for their work towards delivering the budget.  He also called for a polite debate and brief speeches.


2024/25 Budget and 2024/29 Medium Term Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 64 KB

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Councillor Peter Butlin (Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Property) introduced the item by thanking the finance team for their assistance and hard work in developing the budget. He noted media coverage of councils in financial difficulty and offered reassurance that

Warwickshire County Council was not one of them. He drew attention to the Council’s good performance on the Cipfa resilience index and the supportive views of the external auditors which were shared at the previous meeting.  He then proceeded to set out the Conservative Group’s budget proposals as contained in the appendix to the published report. In doing so he emphasised the following points:


  • The difficult political and economic environment in which the budget was set and the uncertain timing and impacts of key national policy choices around adult social care reform, the broken children’s social care market, home to school transport, climate change and the fair funding review of central government support for local authorities.
  • Rising demand for services as a result of a growing population of older people, increasing numbers of children and families needing support and communities under pressure from the rising cost of living.
  • Despite the uncertain environment, the budget proposals provided flexibility and a degree of resilience heading into an uncertain future. Difficult decisions had been taken and challenges were being met head on.
  • Three areas were highlighted to underline the Conservative commitment to the most vulnerable in the community:

                 investment of over £28m to meet the growing numbers and cost of supporting elderly citizens and those vulnerable adults who need help;

                 investment of more than £8m into children’s social care services to meet the increased cost and demand for children’s placements; and

                 investment of almost £9m in home to school transport to ensure services to mainstream and SEND pupils were continued in line with policy whilst being able to respond to the increasing demand and cost of the service.

  • Provision in the capital programme for £109m to support the delivery of the 2024 business plans of the Warwickshire Property and Development Group and the Warwickshire Investment Fund.  The capital programme would invest at least £125m over the next five years making sure Warwickshire had a thriving economy with the right jobs, training, skills and infrastructure.
  • Investment of over £36m each year to maintain Warwickshire’s infrastructure with over half of this funding invested in roads.
  • The focus for the next year would be:

                 Making SEND a key priority and investing in helping many more children and young people receive the education they need within mainstream settings and investing in support for children with education, health and care plans to improve their communication, confidence and life chances;

                 Driving  cost reductions through investment in digital, data and automation technologies, adopting more commercial approaches to investments and continued support for investment that enabled buoyant business and household taxbases;

                 Opening more children’s homes;

                 Commence development of the Top Farm site providing additional housing and enabling a new school;

•  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Treasury Management Strategy and Investment Strategy pdf icon PDF 140 KB

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Councillor Peter Butlin, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Property introduced and moved this report, noting that both strategies were statutory documents that full Council was required to approve on an annual basis before the start of the financial year. The documents were long and technically complex but the content was fundamental to the Council’s financial control framework and set out the rules and guidance within which the Council intended to operate and monitor performance against.


Councillor Adrian Warwick seconded the proposals and reserved his right to speak.


Councillor John Holland drew attention to fees and charges for services, noting his view that increasing fees could lead to a surplus which was in effect a tax.  In terms of estate management, he noted that there were no credible proposals for the use of the Barrack Street office which continued to stand empty.


Councillor Adrian Warwick noted that these were important documents setting out the Council’s appetite for risk and how investment would be made. He thanked the team for their work which had contributed to work on the budget and welcomed cross-party oversight of the Warwickshire Property and Development Group and the Warwickshire Investment Fund.


Councillor Butlin noted that fees and charges were not necessarily aligned to the treasury strategy and offered to discuss this point with Councillor Holland outside the meeting.  He also noted that proposals for Barrack Street were being formulated and would be shared with Councillor Holland as the local member in due course.




A vote was held. The motion was agreed unanimously




Resolved that:


1.         The Treasury Management Strategy for 2024/25 (Appendix 2 to the report) be approved with effect from 1 April 2024;


2.         The Investment Strategy for 2024/25 (Appendix 3 to the report) be approved with effect from 1 April 2024;


3.         The County Council requires the Executive Director for Resources to ensure that gross borrowing does not exceed the prudential level specified (Appendix 2 to the report, Section 3.13, Table 12 “Authorised Borrowing Limit”);


4.         The revised lending limits for the Warwickshire Property Development Group (WPDG) (Appendix 3 to the report, Annex 7) come into immediate effect;


5.         The revised lending limits for the Warwickshire Investment Fund (WIF) (Appendix 3 to the report, Annex 7) come into immediate effect;


6.         The County Council requires the Executive Director for Resources to ensure that gross investment in non-Treasury investments does not exceed the prudential levels specified (Appendix 3 to the report, Annex 7);


7.         The County Council delegates authority to the Executive Director for Resources to undertake such delegated responsibilities as are set out in  Appendix 2 to the report, Annex 7, and Appendix 3 to the report, Section 2.5; and


8.         The County Council requires the Strategic Director for Resources to implement the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Policy (Appendix 2 to the report, Section 2.11-2.26).



Any Other items of Urgent Business

To consider any other items that the Chair considers are urgent.

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