Councillors approve paper to spark changes to Slough's financial strategy

Shay Bottomley
Slough Borough Council aims to home rough sleepers staying in Datchet hotel

Slough Borough Council's offices

Councillors unanimously approved Slough Borough Council’s financial roadmap to recovery at Thursday’s full council meeting.

A series of reports, both of which were also heard at cabinet on Monday, provided an update on the financial management of the borough as well as the revised recovery and renewal plan to restore the council’s finances.

The result of the vote paves the way for SBC to instigate changes which require ‘strong, vibrant and clear leadership’, with all services provided by the council to undergo a ‘radical’ review by May 2022.

As yet it remains unclear as to what the impact will be on residents, with lead members set to complete a ‘high-level’ review setting out what services can be ‘realigned, reduced and/or changed to significantly reduce their call on the budget’.

Some services within the borough have not been reformed in more than a decade.

Leader of the opposition Cllr Wayne Strutton (Con, Haymill and Lynch Hill) said that he supported the paper, but had concerns over the previous purchases made by the council.

“I welcome what’s in this agenda item and what we’re looking to do; we see no other option but to follow this process,” said Cllr Strutton.

“But, as with the closure of Priors [Day Service] and Phoenix Group, it looks like - especially after spending a small fortune on redeveloping and making it fit for purposes - that no one will reap the benefits of that.

“Where is the value for money on the investment of money that we’ve spent on improving that service over the past year?

“Again, it seems like this council just likes to buy things, not to use them and waste the taxpayer’s money.”

The leader of the council, James Swindlehurst, reassured councillors that SBC would not be spending further money on non-essential assets and investments.

“The first thing is an assurance that we won’t be actively lots of new purchases or investments,” said Cllr Swindlehurst.

“That’s all stopped, and we haven’t had a commercial committee meeting for months.

“We’ve been focusing all of our attention on the plans needed to adjust ourselves to the financial position that we’re in.”

He reaffirmed his view that there was ‘no sense of some sort of fire sale’ but added that the council ‘clearly had to capitalise by sales’ on the amount required to balance the budget.

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