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Council overspend reduced by £5million, scrutiny panel told

The council’s projected overspend has been reduced by nearly £5million, a scrutiny panel was told last week.

At an Overview and Scrutiny Panel on Thursday, March 12, councillors were given a report by service lead for finance Barry Stratfull on the revenue budget for the third quarter of this financial year.

The panel were told how the projected overspend for the year had been reduced to £2.25million, down from £7million which had been projected at the last meeting for the second quarter.

The panel was informed, however, that one area where the council had made less money than expected had been bus lane fines.

The council had forecast making £772,000 from issuing tickets to drivers who impede on bus lanes, but only £350,000 was taken.

Mr Stratfull said: “As drivers change their habits, the income has been less.

“That’s a good thing on one hand because people are staying out of bus lanes.”

Also at the meeting, the council’s planning performance, resourcing, customer insight and improvement programme was scrutinised.

The panel was told how the planning department relied on several agency staff as a ‘brain drain’ in the 2000s, meaning there is a shortage of quality planning staff available to hire in the public sector. The members were informed that the department was looking to hire more permanent staff.

They were also informed that, in an attempt to improve the planning application process for customers, the council was looking to design a ‘Dominos Pizza’-style app where they could track the progress of their planning application, similar to the way users of the fast-food app track the progress of their takeaway pizza.

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