Councillors Take Hard Line On Budget Roll-Overs

Council chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Council chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Councillors have signalled they’re prepared to take a hard line when it comes to rolling forward unspent money on budgets.

It happens when a department hasn’t managed, for example, to complete a project that they were allocated money for and ask to keep the money for later.

This year the Council overspent by £242,000, which had to come from reserves, yet Head of Finance, Iain McCulloch says account holders have asked for £133,000 to be rolled forward.

This could have helped reduce that deficit.

The worst offenders are the Children and Young People’s Committee and the now defunct Tourist Board, both chaired by Cllr Christine Savill.

The projects requesting the money included £95,000 for ongoing work at the school, such as the seawall path, which has still not been completed satisfactorily, and work to refurbish Mundesley House, which is awaiting the outcome of a review.

There’s also £6,000 being held to refresh the Simply Scilly website.

Mr McCulloch said councillors need to consider if rolling forward such large sums of money, often for several years, is necessary.

Council Chair Amanda Martin said she “struggled” with the requests, particularly for the tourism website.

Councillors will decide at next week’s Planning meeting whether that work will be handed over to the Islands’ Partnership.

And Cllr Gaz O’Neill said if people needed money for projects, they should come back to councillors and explain why it’s needed.

However, Cllr David Pearson, Vice Chair of the Children and Young People Committee, defended the underspends, saying money for training hadn’t been used because weather caused travel disruption.

In the end, councillors refused to authorise the money and officers needing the money will have to come back individually to justify the sums.