Agenda item

Matters considered by the Cabinet


a)            27 to 37 High Street, Swanley Redevelopment


Councillor Fleming moved and Cllr Dickins seconded the recommendation from Cabinet, which sought approval: to redevelop 27-37 High Street, Swanley, to provide a new business hub and 17 residential units; for the project to be established within the Capital Programme; and for the project to proceed. It was noted that paragraph 1 of the report erroneously listed Swanley Christchurch as a deprived ward and should have read Swanley White Oak.


The Leader emphasised how important the scheme was, some external funding had been secured and it was a vital part of the Council’s overall plans for the regeneration work in Swanley which would, in turn, hopefully lead to private investment in the area in the coming years.


Resolved: That


a)   the redevelopment of 27-37 High Street, Swanley, as outlined in the report, to provide a new business hub and 17 residential units at an estimated total project cost of £5,624,039 as set out in Table 1 to the report, be approved;


b)   the project be funded by


i.   capital receipts from the sale of units in the scheme, estimated to be c. £4,134,039;


ii.  £1,490,000 from the Getting Building Fund (GBF) administered by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), noting that the SELEP Accountability Board would only make a decision on the match funding on the 20 November 2020 and thus approval to proceed with the project was conditional on SELEP finally awarding the GBF grant; and


iii. the £375,000 vired in August 2020 be transferred back to the Property Investment Strategy from this project.


c)   authority be delegated to the Strategic Head of Property and Commercial in consultation with the Head of Legal and Democratic Services and the Chief Officer Finance and Trading, to enter into necessary contracts to facilitate the development and construction of the proposed scheme in accordance with the Council’s Contracts Procedure Rules.


b)           Christmas Parking


Councillor Fleming moved and Cllr McArthur seconded the recommendation from Cabinet, which sought approval to the costs in term of loss of income being met from supplementary estimates for the proposed free parking in Sevenoaks town and Westerham on the two weekends leading up to Christmas in December 2020.


Resolved: That the cost of in terms of loss of income for free parking in Sevenoaks town and Westerham on Saturday 12 December 2020, Sunday 13 December 2020, Saturday 19 December 2020 and Sunday 20 December 2020, be met from Supplementary Estimates.



c)            Supporting the Local Economy – Post Lockdown Parking Scheme


Councillor Fleming moved and Cllr McArthur seconded the recommendation from Cabinet, which sought approval to the costs, in term of loss of income, being met from supplementary estimates for the proposed free parking for short stay visitors within the Council’s car parks for one calendar month from the end of lockdown.


Resolved: That the cost in terms of loss of income from the post lockdown parking scheme be met from a Supplementary Estimate (up to a maximum of £60,000).


d)           Budget Setting 2021/22


Councillor Fleming moved and Cllr Dickins seconded the recommendation from Cabinet, which sought approval of the 2021/22 Budget Setting process.


The Leader addressed Council and stated that innovation was not a word often used within the world of finance or those who worked within it, and for good reason as just how ‘creative’ did you want your account, or ‘cutting edge’ your pension fund manager. Local government finance followed a similar path, change, if not totally frowned upon, was usually glacial in pace with only the occasional accounting guidance updates to hasten the heart and quicken the blood. This made the journey the Council had been on for over a decade, all the more remarkable.  Almost 11 years on from the original 10 year budget, any other council proposing what Members had before them would be hailed as ‘visionary’ if not ‘revolutionary’, yet it had been a quiet revolution, one that again, even during the tumultuous global events, hadn’t seen the council blown off course or forced to propose the wholesale diminution of services that faced many councils across the country.


He stated that it would be easy to see the budget solely through the lens of the last half year and the impact that the pandemic had had on the authority and community, and individuals and businesses.  However that would miss the greatest single achievement of the budget and the rolling ten year budget as a whole.  As a Council in the last ten years, the budget had been reduced from a net revenue spend of almost £17m in 2010/11 to a little over £15.5m in the last year and factoring in inflation the council had saved almost £5m or approaching a third of its overall spend without slashing services, or reducing service quality, or outsourcing or in any way compromising the breath or depth of services provided.  In fact the council had continued to invest, improve and increase services across the board to the district it was tasked to serve.


The latest innovation, of bringing the budget forward by three months would mean many of the benefits contained within the budget would be in place, up and running and banked before most councils had a handle on what their budget papers would look like in February 2021. From the moment the idea was mooted, Cabinet had been determined that all Members would have had the opportunity to fully engage in the budget process as usual, and by his reckoning the budget had now been deliberated, debated and discussed in public for over 20 hours, with Members, if they so wished, being able to join and take part in every single meeting.  It was customary at this point to thank Members and Officers for all of the work and effort in getting to this point, and this year was no exception.  However on top of his usual thanks he added his specific thanks to Members for embracing the significant change in the budget timetable and Officers for getting them to this meeting within the constrained period.


The global pandemic had, as with all councils, had a huge impact that no-one could have foreseen when meeting to agree the budget earlier that year.  In total Covid-19 had cost or reduced income by almost £1.5m.  However, unlike colleagues across local government, the Council was able to meet the challenge in a measured way without the need for swinging cuts or financial crisis management.  Members had before them clear decisions to make on savings but also investment.  The scale of the challenge faced was reduced by the decisions made in the past and the sure foundation of the budget process.  The stability brought by the rolling ten-year budget, allowed the Council to continue to make positive choices about high quality services, delivered in house to the residents served, with a balanced budget in a sustainable way.  The ten-year budget had no direct government support and no new homes bonus included.  It was again a balanced ten-year budget; a financially self-sufficient budget giving the Council greater control over its services and massively reducing the potential for decision making being driven, not by the Members of the Council on behalf of the residents served, but instead by the whims of Her Majesty’s Government through the allocation, or not, of funding.


He commended the budget to Members stating that it was an innovative budget, a budget that would stand the Council in the best possible stead to continue to provide the high quality and breadth of services the district’s residents deserved.  He believed that come the council tax setting meeting in February 2021, the Council would be in the best possible position having taken these decisions early.


In response to a question with regards to the risk assessment and prediction of normality come 2022/23, the Leader advised that the 10 year budget was based on a number of assumptions and a measured view provided the ‘best guess’ of where the Council was currently and where it would be going forward.


The vote was taken by all those present throughout the debate.





Cllr Abraham

Cllr Andrews

Cllr Ball

Cllr Barnes

Cllr Barnett

Cllr Bayley

Cllr Dr Canet

Cllr Carroll

Cllr Clack

Cllr Clayton

Cllr Penny Cole

Cllr Perry Cole

Cllr Coleman

Cllr Collins

Cllr G Darrington

Cllr P Darrington

Cllr Dickins

Cllr Dyball

Cllr Edwards-Winser

Cllr Esler

Cllr Eyre

Cllr Firth

Cllr Fleming

Cllr Foster

Cllr Fothergill

Cllr Griffiths

Cllr Grint

Cllr Harrison

Cllr Hogarth

Cllr Hudson

Cllr Hunter

Cllr Kitchener

Cllr Layland

Cllr London

Cllr Maskell

Cllr McArthur

Cllr McGarvey

Cllr McGregor

Cllr Morris

Cllr Nelson

Cllr Parkin

Cllr Pender

Cllr Pett

Cllr Piper

Cllr Purves

Cllr Raikes

Cllr Reay

Cllr Roy

Cllr Thornton

Cllr Waterton

Cllr Williamson

Cllr Cheeseman





It was therefore


Resolved: That


a)   the summary of the Council Expenditure for 2021/22 as set out in Appendix G to the report, be approved;


b)   the 10 year budget 2021/22 to 2030/31 which was the guiding framework for the detailed approval of future years’ budgets set out in Appendix B to the report, including the growth and savings proposals set out in Appendix D to the report be approved, and that where possible any variations during and between years be met from the Budget Stabilisation Reserve;


c)   the Capital Programme 2021/24 and funding method set out in Appendix H(i) and Capital Strategy 2021/22 as set out in Appendix H(iii) to the report, be approved; and


e)     the changes to reserves and provisions set out in Appendix J to the report, be approved.


Supporting documents:


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