The main business of the 17 February Croydon Council Cabinet meeting will be the 2015/16 budget and the financial strategy through to 2019. In addition it will be asked to note the ‘decision to keep Purley swimming pool open, to allow discussions with Purley residents and users of the pool, to allow more consideration be given to the range of issues raised by them and strengthen the Borough’s leisure and cultural offer in response to local needs.’
Other papers include 2016/17 Admission Arrangements for Community and Voluntary Controlled schools, the award of contracts, including facilities management and purchase of modular units for school places provision, and recommendations on transport infrastructure from the Streets and Environment Scrutiny Sub-Committee meeting on 20 January.
The Budget 2015/16 and Financial Strategy 2015/19
The Council predicts a funding gap of over £100m projected over the period 2015/19 (a quarter of the base budget). By 31 March 20016 it will have lost £45.8% of grant from Central Government (from 1 April 2011). For the coming financial year the loss will be 13.9%.
The paper states that ‘Funding disparities do not reflect changes to population and poverty’.
- ‘During the decade to 2011 the population of Croydon grew by 10%. The borough has also become more ethnically diverse and has the largest population of 0-16 year olds in London.
- Increasing suburbanisation of poverty i.e. the movement of less affluent households from inner London to outer London areas, is also impacting need in Croydon. Despite these issues Croydon’s funding allocation is significantly less than that of other authorities in inner and outer London with similar issues to address.
- Pockets of deprivation persist in areas of the borough, which the Council is committed to tackling.’
Two of the main elements of the budget for 2015/16 are:
- no increase in Council element of Council tax; reduction due to lower GLA precept
- 2% increase in Council tenants’ rents and other charges.
Expenditure on libraries and culture (after taking inflation into account) will increase by £0.9.m this coming year.
The supporting documentation is very lengthy and detailed and will take time to analyse.
- Recommend to Cabinet that it strongly makes the case for funding accessibility improvements to Norwood Junction Station to Network Rail and/ or the Department for Transport as appropriate
- Express concern that in consulting on the Dingwall Road ‘loop line’, Transport for London did not include options for buses at the same time. As a result the Committee recommends to Cabinet that it aims to ensure that integrated transport solutions, including bus provision, be designed in to the final scheme
- Note that the tram network needs to be replaced before 2030, that the Dingwall Road loop offers an opportunity to start the process of improving tram infrastructure and that the Cabinet should therefore ensure that the quality of infrastructure (including gantries) for the new loop does not prejudice public realm aspirations for the town centre
- Recommend to Cabinet that it supports proposals for both possible tram extensions (Sutton and Crystal Palace) as these would help increase capacity which is integral to the economic development of the town
- Recommend to Cabinet that it (Cabinet) and Network Rail consider future options for the former Woodside Railway station building, which closed in 1997 in preparation for the construction of Croydon tramlink, as it is falling into decline and becoming an eyesore
- Recommend that Cabinet asks for a report on the lessons learned from the phasing of bridge replacement works at Spring Lane and Tennison Road in advance of future bridge replacement or strengthening works (such as at Spurgeon Road) in order to minimise disruption to Croydon residents
- Ask the Cabinet to ensure that public realm improvements be maintained in the long term through possible links to the ‘Don’t Mess with Croydon – Take Pride campaign’ and by allocating sufficient funds from the revenue budget
The Cabinet papers can be accessed at https://secure.croydon.gov.uk/akscroydon/users/public/admin/kabmenu.pl?cmte=CAB