Venue: Parkside Suite - Parkside
Contact: Jess Bayley
To receive apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillors S. Baxter, A. Kent, L. Mallett and S. Robinson.
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 P. Whittaker declared a pecuniary interest in Minute Item No. 80/21 – Recommendations from the Cabinet – Council Tax Empty Homes Discounts and Premiums - as he owned a property that had been or would have been vacant for two or more years by 1st April 2022. He left the room during consideration of that item and took no part in the debate or vote thereon.
The minutes of the Council meeting held on 1st December 2021 were submitted.
With reference to Minute Item No. 67/21, Councillor S. Douglas clarified that her question to the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board, consideration of which had been postponed from the previous meeting of Council, was on the subject of fireworks.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the Council meeting held on 1st December 2021 be approved as a true and correct record.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman and/or Head of Paid Service
The Chairman advised that on Thursday 27th January 2022 there would be events dedicated to the international Holocaust Memorial Day. In Bromsgrove, a service was scheduled to take place at 11am in Sanders Park. All Members were invited to attend this service, which would also be attended by the Queen’s representative, Deputy Lieutenant Sir Nicholas Lechmere and representatives of a number of local schools.
The Head of Paid Service confirmed that he had no announcements to make on this occasion.
To receive any announcements from the Leader
There were no announcements from the Leader on this occasion.
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.
There were no comments, questions or petitions from members of the public for consideration on this occasion.
Members were informed that there had been no urgent decisions taken since the previous Council meeting.
Changes to Committee Membership
Members are asked to note that Councillor M. Glass has been appointed to the Planning Committee to replace Councillor P. Thomas.
In addition, Councillor P. Thomas has been appointed to the Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) Board to replace Councillor A. Kent.
The Leader advised that Councillor M. Glass was replacing Councillor P. Thomas on the Planning Committee and Councillor P. Thomas was replacing Councillor A. Kent on the Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) Board. Council was also informed that, as previously communicated to Members, Councillor G. Denaro had been appointed as Deputy Leader of the Council.
The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling presented the recommendations from the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) concerning Members’ allowances in 2022/23 and in doing so thanked the Panel for their hard work in difficult circumstances during the pandemic.
Members were asked to note that, based on information provided by local authorities in Worcestershire, Bromsgrove Members were paid the lowest per head of population. However, when comparisons were made based on revenue expenditure by Council, Bromsgrove allowances ranked in the middle of the table.
Having considered the report in detail, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling was proposing to increase the basic allowance for Councillors by 1.75 per cent, as recommended by the IRP. This would increase the basic allowance to £4,732 per annum. In addition, he proposed the IRP’s recommendations that Members’ travel allowances should be paid in accordance with the HMRC mileage allowance, that subsistence allowances and dependant carers’ allowances should remain unchanged and that where paid, travel and subsistence allowances for Parish Councillors should be in accordance with those paid to District Councillors. However, Members were asked to note that the IRP’s second recommendation, in respect of the Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs) paid to particular Members for certain roles, would not be supported on this occasion.
The recommendations were proposed by Councillor G. Denaro and seconded by Councillor K. May.
1) the Basic Allowance for 2022-23 is £4,732, representing a 1.75% increase;
2) travel allowances for 2022-23 continue to be paid in accordance with the HMRC mileage allowance;
3) subsistence allowances for 2022-23 remain unchanged;
4) the Dependent Carer’s Allowance remains unchanged; and
5) for Parish Councils in the District, if travel and subsistence is paid, the Panel recommends that it is paid in accordance with the rates paid byDistrict Council and in accordance with the relevant Regulations.
Members are asked to note that, in light of the very recent changes to Portfolio Holder remits, a decision has been taken on this occasion to only include information about Environmental Services in this Portfolio Holder report to Council. Further information about Community Safety will be provided in a separate Portfolio Holder report to Council later in the year.
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.
Council received a report concerning the work that had been undertaken by the authority within the remit of the Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Community Safety. The Chairman advised that, due to the recent changes to Portfolio remits amongst members of the Cabinet, a decision had been taken to only present information in respect of Environmental Services at this stage. A further Portfolio Holder report would follow later in the year on the subject of Community Safety.
The Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Community Safety presented the report and in so doing highlighted the following points for Members’ consideration:
· Staff employed at the depot had worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to ensure the continuation of service delivery. The Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Community Safety thanked them for their hard work at this difficult time.
· The Council was working closely with Wyre Forest District Council in respect of tackling fly tipping and taking legal action against people who committed fly tipping.
· There had been an increase in the overall tonnage of waste collected during the pandemic. This was primarily due to the fact that more people had been working from home and so the rubbish that would usually have been disposed of at work was being placed in residential bins.
· There had been an increase in the amount of items placed in recycling bins that had been rejected at the Envirosort facility. However, the proportion of items that were rejected out of the total number of items recycled was broadly similar to previous years, at 14 per cent.
· Nationally, there was a rejection rate in respect of articles placed in recycling bins of between 5 and 25 per cent.
· The costs of handling items that had been rejected at Envirosort were covered by Worcestershire County Council as the Waste Disposal Authority for the county.
During consideration of this item the following issues relating to Environmental Services were debated by Members:
· The action that was being taken to prosecute people who committed fly tipping and the extent to which the Council could publicise this action in order to deter other people from fly tipping. Members were advised that those found guilty of fly tipping would be named and shamed. This action had already started to have a positive impact, with the number of reported offences having declined from 196 in January 2020 to 60 in January 2022.
· The reasons why an external energy savings consultant had been used to review arrangements for procuring a new, decarbonised fleet and the potential for an outline report on this subject to be circulated for Members’ consideration. The Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Community Safety requested that this question be put to her in writing and explained that a response would then be provided in writing. Members were asked to note that decarbonisation of the Council fleet had been discussed at a recent meeting of the Climate Change Working Group.
· The number of staff working at the depot who had ... view the full minutes text for item 79\21
To consider the recommendations from the meeting of the Cabinet held on 19th January 2022.
Bromsgrove Response to South Staffordshire Preferred Option Local Plan
The Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services presented the Council’s proposed response to South Staffordshire Council’s Preferred Option Local Plan.
South Staffordshire Council had identified that there would be a need for a total of 4,000 houses to be developed in the Greater Birmingham and Black Country Housing Market Area (GBHMA). Whilst the figure was welcomed, Bromsgrove District Council would adopt a different method to calculate this figure when the Council’s approach to the Bromsgrove Local Plan was published later in the year.
During consideration of this item, reference was made to the outcomes of the discussions that had been held with representatives of other Councils in the GBHMA area on 15th December 2021. Council was informed that there had been no further representations made as a result of that meeting and this had been reported for Members’ consideration at a meeting of the Strategic Planning Steering Group.
The recommendation was proposed by Councillor P. Thomas and seconded by Councillor K. May.
RESOLVED that the Council endorse the officer response to the South Staffordshire Local Plan and that it is confirmed with South Staffordshire Council as such.
Bromsgrove District Council Car Parks – Adoption of Cashless Payments and Operational Procedures for Recreation Road South Car Park and Churchfields Multi-Storey Car Park
The Leader presented a report on the subject of the adoption of a cashless payment system and operational procedures for this system in Council owned car parks in Bromsgrove. The residents who had taken part in the Council’s survey on this subject were thanked for their time and contributions. Based on the feedback that had been received, a cash payment system would remain available to customers alongside a cashless option at all of the car parks except for Churchfields multi-storey car park, due to concerns about the potential for a machine to be the target of anti-social behaviour.
Reference was made to the potential for signage to be situated in the car parks to enable customers to locate the cash payment machines where required. Council was informed that clear signage would be made available in the car parks for this purpose.
The recommendation was proposed by Councillor K. May and seconded by Councillor G. Denaro.
RESOLVED that a reduced Budget, as shown in 3.1 - Budget Comparisons Table, be amended as part of the medium-term financial plan review.
Council Tax Empty Homes Discount and Premiums
The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling presented a report on the subject of Council Tax Empty Homes Discounts and Premiums. Members were advised that the recommendation was proposing changes to the level of Council Tax discount, and the implementation of premiums for long-term empty properties. There were three areas where the Council had discretion, and the recommendation would determine the level of discount for each of these classes of property from 1st April 2022.
There were properties classified as second homes, which were dwellings which were furnished and which were no ... view the full minutes text for item 80\21
The minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 19th January 2022 were noted.
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.
The Chairman explained that six Questions on Notice had been received for consideration at the meeting and would be considered in the order in which they had been submitted. A maximum of 15 minutes was allocated to consideration of these questions and the answers provided and there were no supplementary questions.
Question submitted by Councillor S. Douglas
“Can the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board update council on the progress that has been made with the scrutiny of fireworks, which occurred following Councillor Hunter’s submission of a Motion on this subject in December 2020?”
The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board responded by explaining that the Motion from Councillor Hunter that was submitted to Council in December 2020 had been discussed initially at a meeting of the Board on 11th January 2021. During this meeting, Members had discussed the Motion and eventually agreed that further information should be requested from a relevant source before deciding whether or not further investigation was required. This proposal was seconded by Councillor Douglas. At the meeting of the Board held on 26th April 2021 there was a further discussion of this subject.
During the April meeting of the Board, Members received a report on the subject of fireworks. This reported that the Council was undertaking a procurement process and would take into account issues such as the noise of fireworks at Council-run events. The Board was also informed that the Council always issued communications in relation to any Council-run events and aimed to avoid holding fireworks events on the same night as other organisations to minimise disruption to the community.
There was no firework event in Bromsgrove Town Centre in 2021 due to concern about potential Covid-19 transmission and instead an Illuminating Autumn event took place in Sanders Park. The Board therefore had not discussed the matter again in 2021. However, the Board were due to discuss the matter further in March 2022. Councillor Douglas was advised that she would be very welcome to attend this meeting. The Chairman of the Board also offered to share copies of the minutes of the previous Board meetings with Councillor Douglas together with a copy of the report that was considered at the meeting held in April 2021.
Question submitted by Councillor R. Hunter
“Street Name Plates
What is Council’s policy on timescales for the replacement of missing street name plates? How long should the maximum waiting time be?”
The Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Community Safety responded by explaining that there had never been a timescale agreed for the replacement of Street Name Plates. The process that the Engineering Team followed was that once a report was received, an inspection was undertaken to establish what was required as it could mean re-erecting the existing sign or a completely new sign might be needed. If a new sign was found to be required, subject to the budget being available, an order was placed with the approved manufacturer. (At this stage delivery times ... view the full minutes text for item 82\21
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 opened this item by explaining that four Motions on Notice had been submitted for consideration at this meeting of Council. However, Councillor S. Robinson, who had submitted one of these Motions, had agreed that her Motion could be referred on for consideration at the following meeting of the Constitution Review Working Group and it would not therefore be debated at Council. There were therefore three Motions for debate at the meeting.
Members considered the following Motion on Notice submitted by Councillor H. Rone-Clarke:
“Ethical banking – divesting from the big polluters
In doing business with banks such as Lloyds, who are profiting from climate breakdown, Bromsgrove District Council is itself having a negative impact on our environment, as well as failing to ‘walk the walk’ on climate change. This hurts our credibility when we call upon residents to make necessary changes to their own lifestyles in order to lessen their carbon footprint.
Therefore, Council resolves to divest from the offending banks in favour of institutions with an ethical policy that refrains from investing in fossil fuel firms.”
The Motion was proposed by Councillor H. Rone-Clarke and seconded by Councillor P. McDonald.
In proposing the Motion, Councillor Rone-Clarke explained that it was calling for the Council to divest from financial institutions that profited from climate change. The Council used Lloyds Bank, and for this reason it had been referenced in the wording of the Motion. However, there were other banking options available to the local authority, including banks that did not invest in fossil fuels, such as The Co-operative Bank and The Unity Trust Bank.
Councillor Rone-Clarke commented that a number of Councillors had taken a decision to stand back from the Climate Change Working Group, which might have tackled this subject. However, many of the Councillors who had decided not to participate in the work of that group were meeting privately to discuss climate change matters. The action proposed in the Motion was one that could be taken by the Council to address climate change.
In seconding the Motion, Councillor McDonald reminded Members that the Council had declared a climate emergency some years previously. Action to tackle climate change was also considered to be a priority at both the local and national level and there was more that could be done to address this. The Council could exert influence by banking with an institution that did not invest in fossil fuels. Councillor McDonald also commented that the Council could have a greater impact on tackling climate change if a Climate Change Strategy was developed for the authority.
The Leader responded to the Motion by commenting that banking facilities were of tremendous importance to a local authority. Credible banking suppliers which were in practice available to the Council, given the broad level of service required and level of creditworthiness required, were quite limited. In 2020, the Group Sustainable Business Director of Lloyds Bank PLC had stated that they were delighted to be the highest-ranking UK bank and ... view the full minutes text for item 83\21