As I said at the time,
I didn’t go to the Resources and Growth Scrutiny
meeting last week, I wasn’t feeling up to it, the Agenda looked boring to me
and it is webcast, so is there any point in going when one can watch and listen from
home? Well I can tell you one reason, the webcast is technically appalling. I
thought the audio had been improved but it is nowhere near as good as I obtain
by being there with my little recorder. However I was right about the potential
for boredom and the only stand out moment came within the first five minutes.
After Chairman Andy Dourmoush noted that no members of the public were present Councillor Hall (Conservative, East Wickham) made the first noteworthy comment. He referred to the overspend in Adults’ Services of £3·2 million this year paid for from the Contingency Reserves. Was it foreseen and will it happen again in future years he wanted to know.
Cabinet Member David Leaf (Blackfen & Lamorbey) said the budget was “complex” with “variables”, he “monitors it very closely” and “the contingency is there”. It was a typically inadequate response from Councillor Leaf.
Councillor Hall asked how much money was left in Contingency. The answer came from the Finance Officer. “About 2·4 million although some is already ear marked for other uses like the Winter Pressures”.
Councillor Daniel Francis (Labour, Belvedere) noted that half the Contingency has gone before Winter has even begun. He asked Councillor Leaf if he was confident that he could manage the overspend.
The Cabinet Member said “we are looking into that” and “to be patient”. Councillor Francis indicated that he thought the answer was inadequate.
Chairman Dourmoush issued a reminder that spending the Contingency is not the same as dipping into the Reserves.