Review of Mole Valley District Council Services and Finances 2021-22 – Latest news from Mole Valley District Council
At its most recent meeting, Mole Valley District Council’s (MVDC) Cabinet considered a report outlining the performance of the local authority’s finances, services and key projects to deliver on its priorities over the 2021/22 reporting period.
Councillor Bridget Kendick, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “2021-22 saw our finances and level of service delivery still impacted by the results of the Covid-19 pandemic but we remained prudent in our approach to resuming many of our activities. I am pleased to report that this decision had a positive effect, both on our ability to deliver a range of services our residents and businesses expect of us, and on the financial position of the organisation during a period of national and global economic uncertainty. Due to significant Government funding, higher than expected number of planning applications as well as quicker than anticipated recovery of MVDC key revenue streams such as car parking and Dorking Halls, we were able to report a £60,000 underspend on the annual budget, rather than initially forecasted overspend of £800,000.
“The vast majority of projects from our annual plan were on target and the remaining ones, are still progressing, but perhaps slower than we would have wanted.
“I am really proud of what MVDC have achieved over the last year in all three areas: Community, Environment and Prosperity.
“We used Contain Outbreak Management Funding (COMF) to support residents and businesses throughout the year – from running public health awareness campaigns and promoting vaccinations to providing free transport to vaccinations appointments and running wellbeing events for those disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. Support for rough sleepers and assistance to homeless families had also been extended and we made good progress in securing funding for new accommodation.
“We continued our work in supporting businesses with compliance and assisting them to return to normal operation whilst meeting the Covid-19 requirements as well as providing them with training and business consultations. A new initiative – Pop Up Leatherhead had been launched providing a starting point for online retailers wishing to try their products on the high street.
“Our Climate Change Action Plan is moving forward and the key achievements include: implementation of Air Source Heat Pumps at Pippbrook and Dorking Halls, installation of LED lights at the Halls, promoting the Low Carbon across the South and East grand funding (LoCASE) to businesses and organisations looking to implement de-carbonisation initiatives and successfully increasing the base of good causes and community support through Mole Valley Community Lottery.
“MVDC Local Plan had been submitted to the Secretary of State in February and it’s currently going through the series of inspectors’ examinations. By the end of the year, we should have a better understanding if the plan will get a go-ahead for implementation.
“In Summer 2021 and throughout October half term, we ran a successful programme of holiday activities for young people. We also launched a new Youth Forum for Mole Valley schools and youth organisations in order to seek the views of young people in the development of council policies, projects and services.
“The Mole Valley Employment & Skills Hub, an MVDC initiative delivered by Surrey Lifelong Learning Partnership (SLLP) and funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), was officially launched at the end of July 2021 and had been successfully supporting residents through a range of courses, consultations and workshops.
“Our Transform Leatherhead programme also saw great strides made, with the preferred developer for Claire and James House obtained, and work put in place ahead of the Swan Centre and Bull Hill redevelopment.
“Our £1m car park refurbishment programme is underway with the main focus on Dorking sites, following on from a successful refurbishment of Ashtead Memorial Hall car park last year.
“Whilst recognising the many positives, it would be remiss of us not to acknowledge the challenges we faced that year, the majority of which were inspired by factors – besides COVID-19 – that could not have been foreseen nor accounted for, such as the war in Ukraine or the severe storms experienced in February which led to additional and urgent works being required on our tree stocks. Rental income continued to be affected by the pandemic because we were unable to let vacant properties and assets as quickly as we might otherwise. The national lack of HGV drivers impacted on Garden Waste collections for a number of months as waste and recycling services were prioritised, with the suspension of the Garden Waste service being lifted and fully reinstated in April 2022.
“The state of the wider global economy continues to evolve, and we anticipate that, in 2022/23, the effects of COVID-19 will remain. Where new grants can be used to offset MVDC’s direct costs moving forward, we will look to do that to ease financial pressures on our budget.”