There’s a disturbing trend in Hart Council. Deadlines are being missed. Long standing meetings are being postponed. The finances are still not under control. These things all point to a Council that is out of control. In summary:
- Audit Committee Postponed
- Medium Term finances still in deficit, despite savings being identified
- Missing 5-year Land Supply
- CIL proposal based on unpublished Infrastructure Plan
- No progress on elements of the Local Development Scheme
- Shapley Heath Deliverables Remain unpublished
Let’s look at the detail.
Audit Committee Postponed
An Audit Committee meeting was supposed to take place this week, but it has been postponed. This meeting was an important one; the purpose was to receive the audit letter and auditor’s report.
Medium Term finances still in deficit
The Council has been working to identify savings to close the black hole at the heart of their finances. Some proposals were presented to O&S last week. However, the savings identified do not eliminate the deficit.
Hart Council Out of Control: Missing 5-year land supply
At O&S on 21 September, we were assured that the updated 5-year land supply was on track for delivery by the end of September. However, at last week’s O&S this had been pushed back to Christmas. It is very strange for something that was on track to be delivered within 9 days should suddenly suffer a three month delay. This is indicative of poor internal management and control.
CIL paper based on unpublished Infrastructure Delivery Plan
At last week’s O&S they discussed a proposed CIL charging schedule. The funding gap that the CIL is supposed to help close was based on an as yet unpublished Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP). This identifies a funding gap of £57.9m.
However, the latest published IDP came out around the time of the Local Plan. This showed a funding gap of £72.3m, but this did not include Social and Extra Care nor Countryside schemes. In fact many of the items on the IDP were un-costed and have no funding, to the real gap was even wider.
We should be able to scrutinise the new paper to see how the gap has miraculously fallen by ~£14m and whether the figures are realistic.
No Progress on Local Development Scheme
Back in 2019, the Council produced a Local Development Scheme. This sets out the timelines for delivery of all elements of the Local Plan and other development documents.
A DPD for Traveller sites was supposed to have been submitted to Government in June of this year. Nothing has happened. There was supposed to be a Development Management DPD consultation in June of this year. Nothing has happened. Instead they carried out the survey about the totally unnecessary Shapley Heath project.
The simply cannot keep wasting time effort and our money on vanity project while they fail to produce key documents that are required.
Shapley Heath survey and baseline studies not yet published
Of course, the results of the Shapley Heath survey and Baseline Studies still haven’t been published. This is despite Councillor Cockarill promising that they would be published “very shortly” at the last Council meeting on 30th September. indeed he noted that if they hadn’t paused the project, the results would have been published to the Opportunity Board in September.
Some of the Baseline Studies were due to be published to the Opportunity Board originally scheduled for July 2021. They still haven’t been published. The current status is ambiguous, with some statements saying they will be “published promptly” and others saying we need to wait until the New Year.
Hart Council Out of Control
In addition, of course our green waste has not been collected for weeks on end. Overall, this paints an alarming picture of failure, obfuscation and secrecy. This cannot be allowed to continue.