Agenda and minutes

Cabinet - Monday, 7th September, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Online - Virtual Meeting. View directions

Contact: Katia Neale  Email:

Link: View live stream on YouTube

No. Item


The Leader stated that since the last Cabinet meeting, almost two months ago, there had been a number of issues, which he wanted to report publicly at this meeting.




Firstly, he thanked the NHS, council officers and all partners for working together to deal with Covid-19, which was an unprecedented crisis, and risen to the challenge in an extremely effective and admirable way. He was particularly grateful to the thousands of residents who took part in H&F CAN.


The Leader added that there was still some time until a successful vaccine could be implemented. Therefore, there was a risk of a second wave of the pandemic, as seen happening in other countries. Currently there was a peek of Covid-19 cases in this borough, increased by issues beyond the Council’s control.


The Home Office, on the last Bank Holiday Monday, moved a large number of people into hotels in this borough to self-isolate after being in contact with people with the virus. Since then, the Council found out from Public Health England that 9 of these people had now tested positive for Covid-19 and they were waiting for test results for a further 10 cases.


The Council had conducted a telephone survey to examine the likely cause of the increase in positive Covid-19 cases in the borough and found out that the majority of them were people under 30s.


The Leader concluded that a second wave would be imminent if people did not take the suitable precautions. He encouraged everyone entering a public confined space to wear a mask and always keep the 2 metres distance. In addition, he urged anyone  with symptoms to immediately get tested. These were the only way to contain the spread of the virus and avoid a second wave.


Councillor Colman, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, reiterated that the Council had been calling people who had recently tested positive in the borough to try to find out the reason for the sudden increase. They discovered that 70% of the new cases had contracted the virus while on holiday and the majority at a party either on holiday or over here. There was a real misunderstanding amongst young people of the rules and number of people that could congregate. The Council also wanted to encourage business to be responsible and to enforce social distancing and the use of masks. Without these precautions there would be a second wave.


Hammersmith Bridge


The Leader stated that since this Administration came into office in 2014 they had instructed officials to hire engineers to do a comprehensive structural review of the bridge, which had not been carried out before. Engineers started working on it in 2015 and found that every component was riddled with corrosion, including critical parts of the suspension structure. Engineers brought in the latest ultra-sound technology and last year found micro-fractures in the cast iron pedestals that held the suspension chains in place, which could potentially shatter, and the bridge could collapse into the ricer. Therefore, the bridge was closed to all motor vehicle traffic last year.


Since then the bridge continued to deteriorate and there was the need for significant capital investment to make the it safe. A heat wave would cause the structure to expand and cold weather to contract, and the Council had been trying to monitor and control the temperature of the bridge to minimise this effect. However, despite this measure, on 13 August, following a heat wave, there was a sudden increase on size of the micro-fraction, which risked the collapse of the bridge into the river; the bridge was immediately closed to pedestrians and all river traffic. This caused a huge problem for people living in both sides of the river.


The Council was working with Port of London Authority, Richmond Council and TfL in seeking alternative options, such as new bus routes and ferry transport.


To make the bridge safe to allow to open to river traffic it would cost £46 million. To fully restore the bridge would cost £141 million. A temporary bridge would cost £27.3 million; however, the Council did not have this sum, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic and 10 years of austerity.


The Leader added that Hammersmith Bridge was owned by Hammersmith and Fulham, but it was also a crucial part of the transport network in London, therefore it was unreasonable to expect the residents of the borough and the local business to pay for the whole cost themselves.


The Leader informed that the Council was looking at different ways to fund the bridge, but the most effective and speedy way to resolve this issue would be to have a government fund scheme. The Leader had written to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to inform and he had taken a personal interest on the issue; there had been some constructive and positive engagement recently. The Leader was also grateful for the involvement and support received from local MPs on this matter.


The Leader concluded that there was no other option but to close the bridge and he was very sympathetic to the disruption that this had cause to residents on both sides of the river. The bridge was still at risk now and it needed constant monitoring and maintenance. On the previous week he had authorised the installation of a temperature control system to reduce any further extensions of the micro-fractures and support efforts on stabilisation of the bridge.


Councillor Harcourt, Cabinet Member for the Environment, added that the key priority was the safety of the general public. He also fully appreciated the disruption caused to residents in both sides of the river and beyond, as this was part of a national infrastructure, in addition to a national iconic structure, therefore it really needed government intervention. The design work for the repair had already been done and the Council was now looking for funding, while trying to maintain and stabilise the bridge and looking for alternative ways of transport to alleviate the problem of crossing the river.


Councillor Fennimore, Deputy Leader, thanked officers for their huge amount of work in trying to rectify as quickly as possible this matter and their support to residents. She added that the strategic cross-party working, coming together to solve the issues faced by residents, had been extremely welcome.



Minutes of the Cabinet Meeting held on 6 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 254 KB


That the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 6 July 2020 be confirmed and signed as an accurate record of the proceedings, and that the outstanding actions be noted.



Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Sue Macmillan.


Declaration of Interests

If a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest in a particular item, whether or not it is entered in the Authority’s register of interests, or any other significant interest which they consider should be declared in the public interest, they should declare the existence and, unless it is a sensitive interest as defined in the Member Code of Conduct, the nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.


At meetings where members of the public are allowed to be in attendance and speak, any Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest or other significant interest may also make representations, give evidence or answer questions about the matter.  The Councillor must then withdraw immediately from the meeting before the matter is discussed and any vote taken.


Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance and speak, then the Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration. Councillors who have declared other significant interests should also withdraw from the meeting if they consider their continued participation in the matter would not be reasonable in the circumstances and may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.


Councillors are not obliged to withdraw from the meeting where a dispensation to that effect has been obtained from the Standards Committee.


There were no declarations of interest.


Capital Programme Monitor & Budget Variations, 2019/20 (Outturn) pdf icon PDF 455 KB


Councillor Schmid, Cabinet Member for Finance and Commercial Services, introduced the report and stated that the key areas of capital spend during the year included the reacquisition of the former Gibbs Green school and Farm Lane sites as part of the termination of the Earl’s Court Conditional Land Sale Agreement. This was not only a victory to the residents, whose homes were now safe, but it was also financially critical as the costs could have bankrupted the Council.


The Council also acquired 145/155 King Street, one of the main buildings residents used to interact with the Council and would not need to pay rent anymore. In addition, there was a large spend on significant build of genuinely affordable homes.


The Leader put the recommendations to the vote.





1.         To approve the budget variations to the capital programme as summarised in Table 1 and detailed in Appendix 2.


2.         To note the capital outturn for the year.



2019/20 General Fund Revenue Outturn Report pdf icon PDF 564 KB


Councillor Schmid introduced the report and stated that the overspend had been less than the projected overspent reported in monitoring reports during the year, and praised officers for this reduction in spend, despite of the financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic at the end of the financial year. The overspend had been largely driven by the demand led in Children’s Services. 


The Leader put the recommendations to the vote.





1.     To note the provisional General Fund overspend of £6.885m. The overspend will be charged against corporate earmarked reserves.

2.     To note the provisional Housing Revenue Account underspend of £1.545m.

3.     To note the in-year Dedicated Schools grant overspend of £5.5m and increase in the cumulative offsetting earmarked reserve to £19.1m.


2020/21 Corporate Revenue Monitor - Month 2 (May 2020) pdf icon PDF 901 KB


Councillor Schmid introduced the report which reflected two key areas of budget pressures; one was related to Covid-19 and had a much larger overspend.


The Government, at the early stages of the pandemic, had appealed to all Councils to spend whatever necessary as they would be fully compensated by the Government. Unfortunately, that was not the case and their latest announcement was that there would be no compensation on the first £5 million of lost income and beyond that only 75% of lost income would be compensated. This was not a loss any Local Government could afford, especially after 10 years of austerity and cuts.


Councillor Schmid thanked the finance team for producing the three finance papers on this agenda. He specially thanked Emily Hill, who took over from Hitesh Jolapara as Director of Finance in the middle of the pandemic and was doing a fantastic job steering the Council through this very difficult time.


The Leader stated that it had been 10 years since David Cameron and Nick Clegg had introduced austerity in Local Government and he could not stress enough the financial pressure this had caused in council budgets across the country to continue to provide services. He thanked Councillor Schmid, the financial team and the whole senior leadership team for cutting spends while ensuring services were delivered efficiently.


The Leader added that if the Government changes to planning regulations went ahead, it would damage the ability for councils to have any infra structure funding to mitigate issues caused by new schemes and that would be another tremendous hit to all councils.


The Leader put the recommendations to the vote.





1.     To note General Fund forecast overspend as of May of £18.807m and requirement for urgent further action to significantly reduce the forecast overspend.

2.     To note the Housing Revenue underspend of £0.181m.

3.     To note the in-year Dedicated Schools Grant overspend of £2.179m.

4.     To approve General Fund virements of £1.960m as detailed in appendix 9.


Forward Plan of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 689 KB


The Key Decision List was noted.


Any Other Business



Proposed resolution:


Under Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, that the public and press be excluded from the meeting during the consideration of the following items of business, on the grounds that they contain the likely disclosure of exempt information, as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of the said Act, and that the public interest in maintaining the exemption currently outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.       



The Leader concluded the meeting wishing everyone health and wellbeing.