Thursday 23 September Cllr Susan Parker attended the Corporate Governance and Standards committee.
The point she raised at the last Corporate Governance and Standards committee - the inclusion of a regular report on the accounting for S.106 receipts - has now been added to the regular reporting agenda and reports on this will start at the next meeting. This is a major victory for GGG!
So now, if developers pay money to the council for infrastructure, the council will have to report that the money is fully utilised, and any failure to spend that money will be now be reported to councillors and be a matter of public record and reporting. This was not the case previously.
Following Susan’s comments at the last meeting, the council is also now reporting on Right To Buy receipts. Last year, not all the receipts from sales of council houses were used within the time limit, so significant funds from the sales had to be repaid to central government and so were lost to Guildford. This was the subject of a major report from Guildford’s auditors.
To avoid this happening again, at Susan’s suggestion the council is now including a prominent summary of the deadline for spending Right To Buy receipts in every Corporate Governance and Standards committee paper. This sets out a timeline for spending requirements, together with a note on the proposed use of the funds, and indications of risks of slippage. This should allow the council to ensure in future that all Right To Buy receipts are kept in Guildford rather than returned to central government coffers. The report which is now produced does indicate there has been some slippage on Major Projects at present, so Susan has argued for a contingency, so the Executive can act to avoid handing back money in the future, should the Major Projects slip further.
Susan also raised questions on:
Guildford's environmental monitoring criteria (which are currently inadequate, and seem only to be concerned with waste collection),
GBC’s responses to Freedom of Information requests (disappointing, particularly on planning)
and querying the investment strategy in relation to our assets, which are public money - much of this is invested in the Money Markets, without further analysis; and much is invested in other councils’ housebuilding programmes.