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The Chairman invited the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Health and Wellbeing, Councillor S. Webb to introduce this item.
Councillor Webb welcomed Mr Ian and Mrs Vicki Jones to the meeting, who spoke about the loss of their son, Tom, and Mr David Brown from the West Mercia Search and Rescue Team. Mr and Mrs Jones were supporting the Home and Dry campaign in their son’s memory and thanked Council for the opportunity to highlight its importance through this meeting. Mr Brown gave a short presentation on the work of the Team and the campaign that Mr and Mrs Jones were supporting. He encouraged all present to complete the online Home and Dry course and to share this with friends and colleagues.
Councillor Webb, the Chairman and Leader took the opportunity to thank Mr and Mrs Jones and Mr Brown for attending the meeting and highlighting the important work of the Search and Rescue Team and the Home and Dry campagin.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors S. Baxter and S. Hession. It was also noted that Councillor H. Rone-Clarke would be late.
Declarations of Interest
To invite Councillors to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Disclosable Interests they may have in items on the agenda, and to confirm the nature of those interests.
Councillor R. Hunter declared an other disclosable interest in item 14, the Portfolio Holder report for Strategic Housing and Health and Wellbeing as he was employed by an independent charitable provider of social housing, in Birmingham.
The minutes of the Council meeting held on 25th September 2019 were submitted.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 25th September 2019 be approved.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service
The Chairman made the following announcements:
· The Remembrance parade and service had been well attended.
· He had attended the visit from Princess Anne to a local Bromsgrove business.
· The Primrose Hospice Tree of Light and Christmas Light Switch On in Bromsgrove High Street would take place on Saturday 23rd November.
· The Rubery Primrose Hospice Tree of Light and Christmas Light Switch On would take place on 30th November.
· The Chairman’s Christmas Carol Service would take place on at 6.30 pm on 11th December at St John’s Church and everyone was welcome to attend.
It was also noted that the Christmas Lights at Barnt Green would be switched on, on 30th November, along with those at Catshill, Alvechurch would be on 6th December and Hagley on 7th December.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
The Leader advised that the Climate Change Working Group had now been established and had met in October and would meet again in December. Whilst these meetings were held in private, the Working Group would be discussing how best to engage with the public and further information would be provided in the New Year.
As this was the last Council meeting of 2019 the Leader took the opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
Councillor S. Colella took the opportunity to thank the Leader, the Deputy Chief Executive and members of the Place Team for the work they carried out in supporting residents during the recent flooding. He also asked whether, under these exceptional circumstances there would be full investigation and those responsible help to account.
The Leader responded that a Section 19 notice had been issued by Worcestershire County Council and assured him that a full and detailed investigation would take place.
To receive comments, questions or petitions from members of the public
A period of up to 15 minutes is allowed for members of the public to make a comment, ask questions or present petitions. Each member of the public has up to 3 minutes to do this. A councillor may also present a petition on behalf of a member of the public.
The Chairman invited Mr. D. Smith, a member of the public, to present his question:
“Would the council please support the start up of a new group Called Mental Health Together?
Not asking for financial help, just an endorsement, but help with getting funding for Bromsgrove would be a bonus. When i say endorsement i mean help with getting the message out there.
The group was started in Leamington 2 years ago and they run walk and talk events, run and talk events and other social evenings. I am a trustee of this group and would like to expand to Bromsgrove.”
In presenting his question Mr. Smith provided background information in respect of the group and how he hoped to receive support from the Council in being able to set up a similar group in Bromsgrove and the aims of such of group.
The Leader thanked Mr. Smith for bringing this matter to the Council’s attention and confirmed that Councillor S. Webb, Portfolio Holder for Strategic Housing and Health and Wellbeing would look at how best to take this matter forward.
Councillor G. Denaro, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling, provided background information in respect of this item and reminded Members that the Council had initially chosen to join the Worcestershire Pilot Scheme which, unfortunately had not been extended beyond March 2020. A decision therefore needed to be made in order to join the Worcestershire Pool to ensure that any share of Business Rates growth for 2020/21 was not returned to Central Government but remained in Worcestershire. This decision needed to be made before 25th October and full details were provided within the agenda item.
Councillor G. Denaro, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling presented the report, which he explained was necessary following recent political group movements. He understood that those affected by the changes had been consulted and had been in agreement to the committee membership numbers detailed in the appendix to the report.
The recommendations were proposed by Councillor Denaro and seconded by Councillor K. May.
Councillor P. McDonald challenged the accuracy of the calculation and advised Members that the Overview and Scrutiny Board was one of the most important parts of the Council. He questioned the calculation in respect of the rounding up and down of the figures for that Board and the Planning Committee and suggested that the figures had been manipulated to the advantage of the leading Group. He asked for the item to be deferred in order for the anomalies he referred to be addressed. This was supported by Councillor L. Mallett.
Councillor Denaro responded that he and the leading group had played no part in the discussions that he understood had taken place between the Group Leaders as the changes that had arisen did not impact on the leading group. It was his understanding that the three groups concerned had agreed what was in front of Council this evening.
During the following debate a number of areas were discussed including:
· The impact of a number of dormant committees on the calculations and the removal of those committees from the calculation.
· Consideration being given to the bottom line of the calculation and the impact this had on committee places for some groups.
· The item be deferred and further consideration be given to the figures as there seemed to be a degree of misunderstanding of the formula of the mathematical calculation.
· The matter be considered by the Constitution Review Working Group, with particular consideration being given to the removal of the dormant committees from the calculation/constitution or combined with other committees.
· Why the points raised had not been considered prior to Council as the Group Leaders had been aware of the situation for some time.
The Monitoring Officer clarified that all Group Leaders had been consulted and that the political balance rules were straightforward and had been adhered to with the bottom line reflecting the overall majority. The additional dormant committees referred to were in the Council’s Constitution and therefore had to be included within the calculation. Any changes that were suggested would need to be considered in the first instance by the Constitution Review Working Group with a report coming before full Council if appropriate.
Whilst Councillor McDonald acknowledged that he had been advised of the changes he was given to understand that there was nothing he could do and he believed that this was completely wrong. The Chief Executive again confirmed that officers had worked within the parameters of the law when preparing the calculation for the report.
On being put to the vote the amendment to defer the report was lost.
Councillor G. Denaro, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling introduced the report and advised that the changes had been agreed at the Constitution Review Working Group meeting and were in respect of the Council Procedural Rules for Extra Ordinary meetings. The changes were legislative and brought the Procedural Rules in line with the legal requirement.
Councillor Denaro proposed the recommendation and it was seconded by Councillor K. May.
It was noted that the report did not refer to the Liberal Democrat Group being represented at the meeting, although they had been present and it was confirmed that this would be rectified in future reports.
RESOLVED that the Council Procedure Rules in respect of extra ordinary meetings be amended as detailed in appendix 1 of the report.
Councillor L. Mallett, Chairman of the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee, proposed the recommendation and it was seconded by Councillor P. Whittaker.
Councillor Mallett explained that this matter had been discussed and agreed by the Constitution Review Working Group before it was considered by the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee. The 2 specific areas for discussion, which had been agreed by Worcestershire, were in respect of gifts and hospitality, the original threshold had been suggested at £25 but Members thought this was quite high and had suggested £15, which was accepted and the inclusion of trolling under examples of bullying and harassment, which was a sign of modern times and had also accepted.
Councillor M. Thompson commented that, whilst he was supporting of the changes, he questioned why the Council had such a document as it did not appear that the Council took such matters seriously. He gave a number of examples at previous meeting where inappropriate comments had been made by Councillors without reprimand. He also questioned the definition of trolling and whether a better definition was needed. Councillor Kent supported the comments made by Councillor Thompson.
The Chairman commented that whilst he could not stop things from being said, whilst he was in the chair he asked Members to be more considerate and highlighted that it was everyone’s responsibility to work towards improving the Council’s reputation and behave in an appropriate manner.
RESOLVED that the changes to the Code of Conduct, to reflect the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CCSPL) Best Practice recommendations be approved.
The Minutes from the Audit, Standards and Governance Committee meeting held on 10th October 2019 were submitted for information and noted by Members.
To consider the recommendations from the meeting(s) of the Cabinet held on 23rd October 2019.
Wyre Forest Local Plan – BDC Response to Pre Submission Plan
Councillor A. Kent, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services, proposed the recommendations in respect of the Wyre Forest Local Plan Response and these were seconded by Councillor K. May.
In presenting the report Councillor Kent highlighted that the response was similar to that already provided at the earlier stage of the process and that he was disappointed that Wyre Forest had not taken on board the comments from that initial stage. However, he was able to confirm that since the report had been prepared officers had met with Worcestershire County Council (WCC) and Wyre Forest District Council, although there was some way to go with these discussions and there continued to be a lack of evidence in respect of the modelling. This lack of evidence has left the Council with no option other than to raise the possibility of non-compliance with the duty to co-operate.
During the following debate Members discussed a number of issues, including:
· Concerns around the impact on the Hagley area in particular.
· Disappointment with the timescales, which had meant that the response had been sent prior to agreement at Council.
· The impact on the eastern side of the District and in particular Whitford Road, where there was currently a major development under consideration.
· The ongoing issues with WCC in respect of highways issues and the need to look at the traffic flows and the impact on them throughout the town centre.
· Whether this provided further evidence to support the need for a western relief road.
· The impact on the public in general and the lack of engagement from Wyre Forest. It was questioned whether it should go back out to consultation as there appeared to have been limited consultation as far as Members were aware.
Councillor Kent thanked Members for their comments and assured them that he would do everything within his power to ensure that this was dealt with satisfactorily and would be lobbying those involved at every opportunity at both District and County Council levels and he had taken the concerns raised on board.
a) the Officer response to the Wyre Forest Local Plan Review Pre Submission Plan as its formal response and that it is confirmed with Wyre Forest District Council as such be approved; and
b) Delegated Authority be given to the Head of Planning and Regeneration to ensure that BDC is represented at the Examination in Public element of the Wyre Forest Local Plan review.
Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2020/21
Councillor G. Denaro, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling proposed the recommendation and this was seconded by Councillor K. May.
In proposing the recommendation Councillor Denaro explained that the Council was obliged to bring this Scheme forward to Council each year, last year there had been a consultation which had resulted in 85% of the Council Tax being covered and it was proposed that there would be no change for 2020/21. He further commented that ... view the full minutes text for item 60\19
Councillor C. Hotham accepted that the minutes were for noting, but questioned the length of the meeting, as he believed that it was incorrect, as it appeared a very short period of time to consider such important matters.
The Leader explained that detailed discussions had already taken place prior to the meeting at the Leader’s Group meeting, when strategic and items for Cabinet were discussed in some detail. It was suggested that these were private meetings and therefore not appropriate nor good practice for the democratic process when Council business was discussed in a private meeting.
Members questioned whether these meetings were minuted and whether those minutes were available for at least all Group Leaders to have access to them and whether they would be able to attend the meetings. The Monitoring Officer as asked to clarify the position in respect of this.
Reference was made to the move to a strong Leader format from a Committee format and how this had impacted on decision that were made, which some Members felt were in some cases, no longer open and transparent.
It was commented that if copies of the notes from the meetings were not provided then a Member could, if necessary, request them through a Freedom of Information request.
The Minutes from the Cabinet meeting held on 23rd October 2019 were submitted for information and noted by Members.
Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item; no longer than 10 minutes for presentation of the report and then up to 3 minutes for each question to be put and answered.
Councillor S. Webb, Portfolio Holder for Strategic Housing and Health and Wellbeing presented her annual report.
Councillor Webb advised that she did not intend to go through the report in detail, but took the opportunity to highlight and discuss some of the information it provided, and would then answer any questions Members had on it.
She began by saying how honoured she was to have this portfolio and being given the opportunity to work alongside and support the many conscientious, diligent and caring officers of the Council and also the numerous external organizations and partners who do so much good for the people of Bromsgrove. Whilst she had only worked on the portfolio for less than six months, she had been impressed by the many compassionate people in the district and the excellent support they offered to residents.
As portfolio holder, she looked forward to supporting the Council and its partners in the future to help them to continue the good work they did for the people of Bromsgrove, she would also work hard to make sure that the services continued to improve and just as importantly, reached every single resident that required them. This was where Members could help by ensuring all residents were aware of the support that was available. The report provided details on many of the support services that the Council and its partners’ offered, such as:
· The Healthy Horizons which was an individually tailored program of physical activity for people who suffer from many common ailments.
· The Strong and Steady Falls Prevention Intervention scheme
· The successful BURT bus scheme, which was now being used by more residents with mobility issues, with a 10% increase in registered users last year alone.
· The Couch to 5k Scheme, which in addition to being great for health was also a great way for residents to get out and about and make new friends.
· The new community exercise classes including Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and Zumba
· The Escape Pain scheme to support residents who lived with arthritis
· Neuro Exercise sessions where staff worked with neuro physios at POWCH and Images gym on the provision of an exercise class for people living with neuro conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s disease, head injuries, and many more.
· The Active Kitchen, which provided 18 hours of activity and 57 meals served to young people aged 8-16. This is something she was currently working hard on introducing to more areas in the district, and newpartnerships had been forged with Catshill Baptist Church and the foodbank there, St Chads Church in Rubery and the West Mercia Police Safer Neighbourhood teams in the 5 targeted wards
There were more schemes and support packages available, many of which were listed in her report. She urged Members to use their local knowledge and contacts to ensure the Council reached every single resident in need, and every resident that would benefit from these services receives them.
Councillor Webb also took the opportunity to update Members on a subject that ... view the full minutes text for item 62\19
Questions on Notice
To deal with any questions on notice from Members of the Council, in the order in which they have been received.
A period of up to 15 minutes is allocated for the asking and answering of questions. This may be extended at the discretion of the Chairman with the agreement of the majority of those present.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Hughes
”The Government is currently consulting over removing the right of local authorities to determine environmental standards in new homes as part of its Future Homes Standards. Does Cllr Kent agree that this could hamper our aspiration to become carbon neutral and limit our ability to set ambitious requirements for new homes as part of our review of the local plan? Will you write to the Secretary of State following the election in December to ask for a rethink?”
Councillor A. Kent, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services responded that unfortunately he had been away on a course for the last few days and had not been able to speak to officers to get a response to this question; he therefore agreed to provide a written response outside of the meeting.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Douglas
“What is the best way to get these two vital items, appended to the Bromsgrove District Plan 2011-2030 without delay:
· Protected provision for walking and cycling, with dropped kerbs, linked to public transport, should have priority when planning the most convenient option or getting about, and
· That all new buildings including domestic housing be carbon neutral compliant and ECP Rating A, with run-off water storage, energy generation and appropriate EV points; these having now arisen given the urgency of holding back climate change and the reduction of air pollution?”
The Leader referred the question to Councillor A. Kent, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services responded that unfortunately he had been away on a course for the last few days and had not been able to speak to officers to get a response to this question; he therefore agreed to provide a written response outside of the meeting.
The Monitoring Officer clarified that constitutionally the relevant Portfolio Holder was able to respond to a question in writing if it was felt more appropriate.
Question submitted by Councillor P. McDonald
“Would the Chairman of the Council please inform me of the total costs associate with the mothballing of the old Council House in Burcot Lane; for the last two years?”
The Chairman referred the question to Councillor G. Denaro, as Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling who confirmed that the total cost to date was £98k with a refund from the Valuation Office, following appeal, expected of £77k. This would bring the cost down to £21k.
Question submitted by Councillor A. Kriss
“The Council is obliged in law to provide public burials for residents who die having no known relatives. This work is undertaken by our team at Worcestershire Regulatory Services. Whilst there are often neighbours and occasionally friends who wish to attend to pay their last respects to the deceased, there are times where our officer is the only person present.
In recognising the contribution that all such individuals have made to life in our district can the Leader put in place a system which advises relevant ward councillors when any public burial takes place in ... view the full minutes text for item 63\19
A period of up to one hour is allocated to consider the motions on notice. This may only be extended with the agreement of the Council.
The Chairman asked Members to be concise in their discussions as there were a large number of motions to be considered at the meeting. Councillor S. Colella asked it to be noted that he had withdrawn his motion and would take the matter up directly with the relevant Portfolio Holder. He further commented that he felt that there were, in many cases, a number of other ways in which the issues raised in the motions could be dealt with and urged members to consider these before submitting a motion.
Members considered the following Notice of Motion submitted by Councillor K. Van der Plank:
“This Council notes that;
- Fly tipping cost this Council £88,000 and over 200 staff hours to clean up in the financial year 2018-19. Time and money that could be put to better use for our residents.
- Fly tipping damages our natural environment, harming both wildlife and our eco-systems.
Keeping our district clean and protecting our environment by tackling and eliminating fly tipping is essential in building a district people can enjoy and where people are proud to live
This motion calls on this Council to request that the Cabinet
1. Explore more effective methods of environmental enforcement in particular the levels of investment in CCTV
2. Make it clear this District will not tolerate fly tipping and will take a tough stance on offenders. Look into the levels of funding allocated to enable the investigation of incidents and ensure fly-tippers are held to account.
3. Ensure that when prosecutions occur that this is communicated widely to deter rogue operators and fly-tippers.
4. Raise awareness with residents through a comprehensive communication campaign including:
- ensuring residents understand they must take appropriate steps to ensure they give their waste to a person who is licensed. If they don’t and their rubbish is found dumped and it’s tracked back to them, they will be prosecuted or receive a fixed penalty notice.
- promoting the green agenda, and in particular, encouraging residents to reduce and reuse so less waste is created
- encourage residents to be vigilant (whilst remaining safe) and report suspicious behaviour and incidents of fly tipping
5. Work with County and cross-boundary with Birmingham to explore opportunities to collaborate to reduce fly tipping and encourage and make it easy for residents to dispose of waste properly
6. Make it easier for our residents to access the directory of licensed waste collection companies on the environment agency website by providing a prominent link on the BDC Website alongside information about County Council tip site in our district.
7. Put the necessary steps in place to ensure that all fly tipped waste, whether hazardous or non-hazardous is removed within a timely, efficient and safe way.
8. Explore ways in which the Councils Bulky Waste Service can be expanded to take additional items that are not currently available under our disposal arrangements with the County Council and how much this would cost.”
The Motion was proposed by ... view the full minutes text for item 64\19