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Election of Chair of the meeting
As the Chair of the Committee, Councillor Nicole Trehy, was not feeling well and attending remotely, the Committee elected Councillor Ross Melton as the Chair of the meeting.
Apologies for Absence
There were no apologies for absence.
Declarations of Interest
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.
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.
To approve the minutes of the previous meeting held on 3 January 2023.
The minutes of the meeting held on 3 January 2023 were agreed as an accurate record.
This report sets out the budget proposals for the services covered by this Policy and Accountability Committee (PAC). An update is also provided on any proposed changes in fees and charges in the budget.
Councillor Rowan Ree (Cabinet Member for Finance and Reform) expressed his appreciation for staff in the Finance team who had worked out the current Budget under the difficult circumstances of rising rates of inflation and bank interests and a tight timeframe. He also highlighted the contributions of Cabinet Members in the tough process. The Budget had based on realistic assumptions to achieve savings and efficiency. Councillor Ree said he was proud that despite a 56% cut in general government grant funding as compared to 2010/11, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) was able to offer unique services such as providing free breakfasts to school children, abolishing home care charges, establishing a local Law Enforcement Team to keep the streets safe and clean and stopping the use of bailiffs to collect Council Tax debt. In view of the cost-of-living crisis which was affecting residents across the borough, the Council had included in the Budget new provisions of nearly £1 million (m) to help tackle the rising cost of living.
Andre Mark (Head of Finance - Strategic Planning and Investment) presented the item which covered the Budget 2023/24 and Mid Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2024/25+. He outlined the national and local strategic operating environment, proposed revenue budget strategy 2023/24 and the key principles, Council Tax considerations, major savings proposals and growth allocations, and a Reserve summary. Members noted the dates for the proposals to be presented to the relevant committees, the Cabinet and Full Council.
Councillors Laura Janes and Nicole Trehy expressed thanks for the hard jobs of drawing up the Budget at a tough time and appreciated the excellent presentation.
Questions from the floor:
Caroline Kelly remarked that as the military had confirmed they shall take control of the weather in 2025, she questioned the establishment of this Policy and Accountability Committee (PAC). Councillor Rowan Ree referred to the creation and monitoring of new policy development via the PACs, the Climate Change and Ecology PAC was established at the Annual Meeting of the Council in May 2022 to cover key areas of concern in addition to “Children and Education”, “Health and Adult Social Care” and “Housing and Homelessness” etc. He added that the current meeting was looking at the departmental revenue budget related to the Environment. Members welcomed residents’ submission of relevant information for their consideration.
Helen Dell (Climate Change Commissioner) asked about the increase in the net cost of borrowing. Andre Mark said that it referred to the cost of borrowing rather than the borrowing per se.
Bram Kainth (Strategic Director of Environment) presented the Revenue Budget 2023/24 of the Environment Services and outlined a wide range of universal services delivered to residents, the Environment recent achievements, the key budget changes relevant to this PAC.
In reply to Councillor Janes’ questions, Bram Kainth clarified that the 301,000 books were issued for the library services. Regarding the roll-out of food waste collections, Bram noted that the new services of food waste collections ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
This report and its appendix showcase the current and future work taking place in Hammersmith and Fulham schools to support and promote climate education within the borough.
Georgina Herry (Lead Adviser for School Improvement, Children's services) presented Climate Education in H&F 2023 which included:
Councillor Jose Afonso expressed support to the Climate Education in H&F and looked forward to seeing more activities.
Councillor Ross Melton noticed that 32 and 7 primary and secondary schools respectively had been engaged under the H&F Climate Education and sought the percentages they represented. Georgina Herry advised that it was more than 50% for secondary schools. While some 19% of primary schools had been involved, the figure might change after the uncovered primary schools gained a better understanding through the Guide of the activities that could be done under Climate Education. Peter Haylock (Operational Director of Education and SEND) added that additional resources had been earmarked under the MTFS on promoting the Council’s manifesto and strategies linking to industries with a view to attracting more secondary schools. He noted that the secondary schools engaged, except one, were all academy which could have their own programmes running separately. In response to the concern of Councillor Stala Antonaides, Georgina said the H&F borough aimed at cosolidating work with the state primary schools before extending to the wider sector of the non-state schools.
On barriers preventing more school engagement as raised by Councillor Melton, Georgina Herry said that the community was still recovering from the pandemic with supporting pupils returning to schools, which might have taken time away from the schools’ leaders. The audit conducted among schools could give a better understanding what should be done next, like promoting championship was a good way to ensuring start and seeing the benefits. To facilitate more engagements, activities could be held through the Climate Education network and case studies highlighting inspiring work that had been done. Peter Haylock added that climate education remained strong in the science curriculum. However, as there was a significant reduction in the provision for teaching assistants, this would reduce the chance of the children to get out of the schools to join the additional activities relevant to climate education.
As regards Councillor Laura Janes’ concern about evaluating the impacts of the programmes, Georgina Herry noted the need to demonstrate measurable outcomes within the governance process. She assured members that they were gathering participants’ feedback and evaluating impacts from schools’ case studies and would report back to this Committee in due course.
ACTION: Georgina Herry
Councillor Melton asked for the details about the Pier. Jan Parnell (School Improvement Consultant) noted that the premises of the Climate Education and Wellbeing Centre at the Pier was owned by Riverstone Living which had sublet it to the Learning Partnership of the Council for 6 years at a nominal rent for the use of about ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Date of the next Meeting
To note the date of the next meeting:
· 28 March 2023
The Committee noted the date of the next meeting: