Council updated on overspend action plan

COUNCIL members have been given an update on an action plan put together to help tackle an overspend by Horsham District Council.

In November last year the County Times reported that HDC was facing a total projected overspend of about £900,000 this financial year, about £790,000 of which had been attributed to the Acorn Plus recycling scheme.

On Tuesday last week chief executive Tom Crowley gave an update to the council’s Scrutiny and Overview Committee Business Improvement Working Group.

He said: “The council’s Business Improvement Working Group was given an update on progress with the delivery of the action plan that was prepared following consideration of the overspend by the council in December.

“The plan was designed to ensure that the organisational issues that contributed to the overspend are resolved in order to minimise the chances of anything similar happening again.

“Actions are grouped under five headings, namely: lack of senior and capable hands on management post in depots; inadequate budget provision for Operational Services and for the Acorn Plus project; inadequate project management at departmental and corporate levels; inadequate attention to service and project budget monitoring at departmental level; ineffective corporate budget monitoring.

“I briefed members on the progress that has been achieved under each of these headings.

“These included the appointment of an Operational Services Manager as part of the previously approved restructure of depot management; more robust project management and monitoring arrangements and tighter financial management and reporting arrangements.”

Lib Dem group leader Dr David Holmes (LDem, Horsham Park) said he had chaired the group for the last four years and attended for the handover.

Various actions had been promised on the overspend one of which was to produce an action plan which would address ‘management shortcomings’ that the overspend had highlighted, he said.

The overspend wasn’t just related to the Acorn Plus scheme, he added, saying: “What Tom Crowley was presenting last night was the action plan to address these management weaknesses.”

He said council members now needed to look carefully at the action plan to satisfy themselves that it would actually address the weaknesses.